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Tesla switches on battery

Tesla Inc switched on the world’s biggest lithium ion battery on Friday meeting a promise by Elon Musk to build it in a hundred days or build it for free.

The battery will help stabilise the state grid that gets more than 40 per cent of its electricity from wind energy.

 
“South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy,” said State Premier Jay Weatherill at the official launch at the Hornsdale wind farm, owned by private French firm, Neoen.

Neoen’s mission is to develop, finance and manage electricity and heat generation projects operating on renewable energy.

Tesla won a bid in July to build the 129-megawatt hour battery for South Australia, who has suffered a string of blackouts over the past 18 months.

In a political debate, opponents of the state’s renewables push have argued that the battery is a “Hollywood solution” due to the country’s reliance on fossil fuels for two-thirds of its electricity.

Supporters say it will help stabilise the grid in a state that now gets more than 40 percent of its electricity from wind energy, but needs the help when the wind dies down.

“Storage can respond within a fraction of a second. It can address those stability issues very quickly without needing to resort to using large power plants,” said losing bidder, Praveen Kathpal, vice president of AES Energy Storage.

The state has yet to reveal how much it is paying Tesla.

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Australian motorists at risk due to fake car parts

A major investigation by Toyota and Hyundai, Australia’s biggest car manufacturers, have uncovered that many importers are selling counterfeit parts in genuine looking packaging.

One importer alone was found to have more than five hundred phony parts for Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

After many months of investigation and Federal court action by Toyota and Hyundai, the distributor agreed to an out-of-court settlement to contact customers and replace the fake parts with the genuine part.

 “Quite simply these counterfeit parts could lead to a catastrophic engine failure. Saving $20 on an oil filter could end up costing between “$5000 and $10,000” on a reconditioned or new engine.” Said Brenton Daniel, a divisional manager of the NSW Motor Traders Association.

“Motorists are unaware there is no consumer protection on bogus parts bought from overseas,” he said. “They look like the genuine article and even come in packaging that looks original to the untrained eye.”

Furthermore, experts in the automotive trade conservatively estimate there are “tens of thousands” of counterfeit parts in circulation in Australia but admit the true figure is impossible to calculate.

“Unfortunately we don’t know exactly how many of these fake filters with their dodgy materials have reached our streets. This seizure is just from one retailer, and involves over 500 filters,” said Tony Weber, from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

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Toyota on becoming import only

The demise of Australian vehicle production has meant that Toyota has transformed into an import-only brand, following in the footsteps of former manufacturers Holden and Ford Australia. (more…)

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FCAI welcomes government decision

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has welcomed the Australian government’s decision not to proceed with the personal importation of new vehicles due to consumer protection issues.

The Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher has announced plans to modernise and strengthen the laws governing motor vehicles when first supplied to the Australian market – with plans to keep up with international standards.

According to a statement from the Australian government, the decision has been made “not to proceed with one element of change proposed earlier which would have allowed personal importation of new motor vehicles from the United Kingdom or Japan”.

It had weighed up the “modest benefits of personal import arrangements” and concluded that “the benefits do not justify the cost and complexity of this particular change”.

A main issue of concern raised by the government with personal imports was the lack of protection for consumers.

“The industry has long held the view that personal imports are not in the interest of consumers, nor of the 236,000 people who are either directly or indirectly employed in the Australian motor industry,” said chief executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber.

“Australia already has one of the most competitive motor vehicle markets in the world, delivering world quality vehicles and outstanding value for the consumer.

“To allow personal imports would have exposed consumers to enormous risks, which the government’s own analysis has clearly identified.”

The government also announced a significant regulatory changes to the concessional scheme under which unique, specialist and enthusiast vehicles can be imported to Australia.

The changes have introduced six categories of eligibility including performance, environmental performance, mobility, rarity, left-hand drive, and campervans and motorhomes.

The FCAI believes that on the surface while there is merit in these changes, it is keen to work through the detail with the Government on elements of the revised scheme to ensure the necessary consumer protections are in place.

“The broad picture offered by the Government in its statement is one which now provides legislative certainty and clarity and most importantly, better protection for Australian consumers,” Weber added.

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Both new and used imports increase

There were 14,492 used cars imported into the country during July which was a 28.8 per cent increase on the same month last year when 11,249 units were imported. Year to date, 103,740 used cars have entered the country, a 16 per cent increase on the first seven months of 2016’s when 89,036 units had been imported.

New cars’ boom continues with 12,591 units crossing the border last month, and gives a year-to-date tally of 67,547.

Demand for light commercial vehicles saw 618 units imported last month which was a small decrease on 640 units in June.

As usual the vast majority of used imported cars come from Japan with 13,640 units imported in July, a 29.5 per cent increase on the same month last year when 10,533 units were sourced from that market.

Importers brought 452 used cars in from Australia, a 21.5 per cent increase on July 2016’s total of 372. Year to date, 3,437 used cars have been shipped from Australia, a 21 per cent increase on 2806 units during the same time last year. Singapore again rounded out the top three with 122 units down from 187 in June

Both Britain and the United States saw a fall in the number of used cars exported with 135 and 107 units respectively compared to 151 and 112 in June.

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Aussie car sales hit fourth record month in a row

The Toyota Hilux was Australia’s top-selling vehicle

Vehicle sales in Australia hit a record month in July, the fourth in a row, according to industry body VFACTS.

A total of 92,754 new vehicles were sold in Australia last month, an increase of 1.6 per cent compared to July 2016.

Year-to-date sales hit 692,306 cars, a 0.4 per cent increase.

“This July figure demonstrates the industry’s ability to deliver products which are not only good value but cater specifically for the changing needs of Australian customers,” said the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Tony Weber.

While the passenger vehicle market was down 5.9 per cent last month when compared to July 2016, other market segments saw large gains. The SUV market was up 9.4 per cent year-on-year, with small and medium SUVs up 15.3 per cent and 18.6 per cent respectively, and heavy commercials increased 14.5 per cent.

“The steady rise in small and medium SUV sales are indicative of our market’s changing dynamic and manufacturers are moving quickly to meet those new needs and expectations,” Weber said.

The top-selling car make was Toyota, who sold 17,931 vehicles for a 19.3 per cent market share, followed by Mazda, with 9,528 sales, a 10.3 per cent market share, and Hyundai, with an 8.1 per cent share of the market.

Five of the 10 highest-selling vehicle models were also Toyota, with the Hilux standing at the top of the table, with 3,742 sales, a 19.3 per cent increase. This was followed by the Toyota Corolla, with 3,208 sales, down 6.4 per cent, the Ford Ranger, with 3,076 sales, up seven per cent, and the Mazda3, with 2,466 sales, a massive 64.3 per cent increase.

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Turners joins ASX

Turners Automotive Group Limited has been admitted to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), effective from the market opening at 1pm New Zealand time today.

Turners has joined the ASX has a foreign-exempt entity alongside other major Kiwi companies, including Air New Zealand, Fisher & Paykel, and Trade Me.  

“The listing on the ASX will provide the company with access to a larger capital market to support its growth strategy,” Turners Group said in a statement.

The inclusion into the ASX comes after Turners Group announced the new CEO of the retail Turners Group NZ business, which was formerly known as Turners Auctions. Greg Hedgepeth will join the executive team in August.

Turners is now trading on the ASX with the code TRA.  Details of share prices and volumes will be revealed as trading on the ASX gets fully underway.

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Ford unveils ‘showroom of the future’

Elena Ford leads the demonstration of new tech.

The Bayford Group has opened the first Ford ‘Showroom of the future’ in the Southern Hemisphere in Melbourne.

Ford partnered with Fitch Design to create the space, and says the new retail concept will become a global standard.

Features in the showroom include a complimentary café and breakfast bar, kids’ play room, free wi-fi and a cinema room.

The dealer principal of Bayford Ford Epping, David Blackwood, said it was “a great honour to be chosen as the first site in Australia, and one of the first in the world, to receive this amazing refresh.”

The opening was attended by Ford’s global leader in consumer experience, Elena A. Ford, who said the showroom was part of Ford’s global interior refresh programme.

“Ford is focused on connecting with consumers on their terms and building an experience they will love, regardless of where they meet us,” she said.

A new ‘tech-bar’ will showcase new retail technology. Model information will be updated constantly and is accessible and customisable on a new digital content platform. Printed posters have become a thing of the past, and dealers how have the option to change their display branding via a cloud-based media system.   

The Ford of Australia president, Graeme Whickman, said it was an “exciting” time for Ford, and that the division plans to expand. By 2021, the company aims to have 90 updated showrooms across the country.

Whickman said the new space “allows the customer to be in control and showcase the vehicles in a unique and stimulating way, whilst providing customers with purposeful technology.”

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Faulty airbag kills Australian man

A 2007 Honda CR-V, similar to the vehicle that crashed in Cabramatta.

A faulty Takata airbag is “likely” to blame for the death of a 58-year-old man in Sydney, NSW Police has said.

The driver of a 2007 Honda CR-V collided with a Toyota Celica at an intersection in the south-western suburb of Cabramatta on July 13. The man died at the scene, while the driver of the Celica and passengers from both cars suffered minor injuries.

The Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit has determined the likely cause of death was a small piece of shrapnel, which was lodged into the man’s neck after the airbag exploded.

Honda Australia released a statement expressing their sympathy over the weekend, and confirmed the vehicle was part of a global recall due to a faulty Takata airbag.

“We are aware through NSW Police that an accident occurred on July 13, 2017, and resulted in the tragic death of the driver,” said director Stephen Collins.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family of the driver during this difficult time. The vehicle involved, a 2007 Honda CR-V, was the subject of Takata airbag inflator recalls.”

“Honda Australia is working closely with authorities to provide whatever assistance is required.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also announced on Monday morning that it would be investigating the incident, and is seeking more information from government authorities around the information provided to consumers about the recall.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Drive magazine found over the weekend that over a million drivers in Australia are still waiting to have their airbags replaced. 2.1 million vehicles in total have been recalled across the ditch.

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Holden launches Aussie ride-sharing trial

General Motors has announced over the weekend that it will test its car-sharing operation, Maven, in Australia in conjunction with Uber.

“We are testing the adoption of one Maven product – Maven Gig – in Australia through a pilot program in Sydney renting Holden cars to Uber drivers,” communications director at GM Holden, Sean Poppitt, said in a statement.

In March, GM began an in-house car-sharing scheme in Melbourne for employees who needed to use a vehicle for a short period of time, or who wanted to test different models in the Holden line-up.

Maven Gig is a GM programme which allows drivers to rent vehicles on demand for one-off jobs such as deliveries and ride-sharing.

In the US, drivers can borrow a Chevy Bolt for $311 per week. It’s not known which Holden model is being used in the Sydney pilot.

Currently, the firm operates in San Diego, and in May, GM said it would launch Maven in San Francisco and Los Angeles later this year.

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Record month for Aussie vehicle sales

The Toyota Hilux was this country’s second best-selling ute of 2015 – for the second year in a row

Australia enjoyed its best-ever monthly motor vehicle sales in June, according to statistical service VFACTS. 

Sales of new motor vehicles hit a record high of 134,171 units, a four per cent increase.

The strong sales figures were led by a boom in SUVs and light commercial vehicles. SUVs were up 11.7 per cent compared to June 2016, and light commercials 12.2 per cent.

However, passenger vehicle sales fell 5.9 per cent compared to June 2016.

The most significant growth in June was in the medium SUV segment, up 32.6 per cent, followed by large SUVs, up 20.8 per cent, and utes, up 16.7 per cent.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) said the demand was chiefly driven by the business sector, with sales of passenger cars rising 5.7 per cent, and SUVs and light commercials 16.6 per cent to businesses.

The FCAI also attributed the sales increase to a competitive market, low interest rates and the Australian government’s instant asset write-off provision.

Record-breaking sales in June means year-to-date sales are tracking 0.2 per cent the 2016 rate.

Sales increased across the country except for Western Australia, which declined 5.5 per cent. Victoria led sales growth, up 8.7 per cent, followed by South Australia, up 7.9 per cent, the Northern Territory, up 7.5 per cent, Queensland, up 5.5 per cent, Tasmania, up 5.4 per cent, New South Wales, up 2.1 per cent, and the ACT, up 0.7 per cent.  

Toyota remained the industry leader with an 18.3 per cent market share, followed by Mazda, on 9.3 per cent, Hyundai on 9.1 per cent, and Holden and Mitsubishi, both on 6.9 per cent.

The Toyota Hilux was the top-selling vehicle in the country yet again, with 5,461 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger with 5,051 sales, the Toyota Corolla, with 3,830 sales and the Hyundai Tucson, with 3,741 sales.

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