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Holden fundraiser for charity

A grand total of $807,000 has been donated to charity over the weekend, thanks to a fundraiser by Holden Australia.

$307,000 of the total was raised by the ‘Commodore Collection’ auction, which consisted of three limited-edition Commodores – the Director 05, Motorsport 05 and Magnum 111.

The Director model was sold to an online buyer for $130,000, with 50 per cent of its proceeds ($65,000) given to The Lighthouse Foundation.

The Motorsport 05 went for $93,000 and the SS ute-based Magnum (build number 111) went for $84,000

The remainder of the proceeds ($242,000) were made up by a donation of $500,000 from Holden, with a total of $742,000 given to The Smith Family’s ‘Learning for Life’ sponsorship programme.

The auction was run by Manheim and simulcast online. According to Manheim director of sales Adrian Blackwell, bidding for the the limited-run Commodores came from all over the world.

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Honda to close Japanese plants as focus shifts to EVs

Honda is taking the rare step of closing one of its Japanese plants, as the car maker shifts its focus toward EVs.

Reuters reports that the company will end production at its Sayama plant by 2022. The move will cut domestic capacity by around 24 per cent.

The automaker has seen stagnant domestic sales and said on Wednesday it was streamlining its Japanese operations as it takes a nimbler approach to development and manufacturing in the face of fierce competition from carmakers and technology companies to make EVs and self-driving cars.

“As we focus more on adopting electrification and other new technologies, we want to hone our vehicle manufacturing expertise in Japan and expand it globally,” CEO Takahiro Hachigo told a press conference.

Honda’s CEO at a press conference on Wednesday. Source: Reuters

Honda said it would end production at the ageing plant north of Tokyo, consolidating output at its Yorii plant in the same area by the end of the 2022 financial year. Most workers currently at Sayama would be transferred to the Yorii facility.

“Domestic sales haven’t increased as much as we were expecting and it has become difficult to boost exports,” Hachigo said.

The move would cut overall domestic annual production capacity to around 810,000 units, the same as Honda’s current output levels, which are around 76 per cent of its current production capacity of 1.06 million vehicles.

Following the closure, Honda said the Yorii plant will produce EVs and serve as a major center for developing manufacturing technology for electric cars.

While the car maker makes cuts in Japan, it plans to open a new plant by 2019 in China, where it has seen massive growth. Overall, global annual production would remain largely unchanged at around 5.06 million units, Honda said.

Honda is complying with a request from Japan’s transport ministry for inspection records after Nissan said on Monday it would recall 1.2 million vehicles due failing audits of their final inspection processes.

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Honda says Takata airbag killed driver

A woman killed in a car crash in Florida last week was most likely the victim of a faulty Takata airbag inflator, Honda has said. If confirmed by authorities, it would be the 19th death worldwide linked to the defective airbags.

Honda said the 34-year-old woman was driving a 2002 Honda Accord. According to Reuters, an official cause of death has not been announced by authorities.

A 2002 Honda Accord

A minor crash can become deadly if a vehicle contains a Takata airbag, as they can explode under excessive force and fire metal shrapnel inside the cabin.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said vehicles produced between 2001-2003 had a 50 per cent chance rupturing in a crash, and urged the 300,000 drivers currently on US roads to get the airbags replaced.

The 2002 Accord at the centre of last week’s crash was initially recalled in 2011. Honda said it had mailed 21 recall notices, including ten notices to the current owner, but the repairs were never completed.

Last year, investigators found that the ammonium nitrate propellant, which has been identified as the cause of the airbag explosions, was much more likely to combust in hot, humid conditions, particularly over time.

Honda said that older vehicles, particularly those manufactured between 2001 and 2003, are most at risk, and owners should seek a repair as soon as possible. 17 of the total deaths related to Takata airbags have been in Honda vehicles since May 2009.

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Honda debuts Accord in Detroit

Honda debuted their tenth-generation Accord in Detroit on Friday in a bid to revitalise the slumping family sedan market in the US.

The car maker promised a suite of cutting-edge technologies, and the new Accord comes with two different powertrain options. The range opens with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, as currently seen in the Civic hatch, which generates 143kW of power and 260Nm of torque matched to a front-wheel drive CVT automatic transmission.

The next-level Accord contains a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine reminiscent of the just-released Civic Type R, producing 188kW of power and 370Nm of torque. This engine is matched to a world-first driving configuration of a ten-speed automatic with front-wheel drive.

A longer wheelbase and lower profile means an extra 7 centimetres of leg room in the cabin, Honda says. Inside the car, a 7.0-inch TFT screen and an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen offers Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone mirroring and a Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless charging.

Honda says the new Accord will also be available as a hybrid, with details of the motor to be announced.

Within the US, all models will contain Honda’s suite of driving assistance features, which include autonomous emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition.

The Accord is due to launch in the US in several months. No announcements have yet been made regarding an international release, but company director of Honda Australia, Stephen Collins, told Drive magazine the team are working to bring the Accord down under in 2018.

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Honda developing new EVs

The Honda Clarity EV is currently on sale in the US

Honda has confirmed it is developing two electronic vehicles, with the first scheduled to go on sale in 2018.

Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said at a press conference that the company was hard at work on the two EVs. The first, due next year, is being developed specifically for the Chinese market, where the government has introduced incentives for EVs and plug-in hybrids to reduce pollution.

The second EV will be distributed worldwide, and will be introduced at either the Frankfurt motor show in September or the Tokyo Motor Show in October. Details of when the second EV eill go on sale are forthcoming.

Currently, Honda only has one EV – the Clarity, which is currently only sold in the United States. The Clarity has a range of 129km, less than its competitors, the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt, but with a relatively low price tag of $48,500.

Honda has said in the past that it expects by 2030, two-thirds of its vehicles will have either partially or fully electric drivetrains.

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Price, specs released for new Honda range

More specifications, including pricing, have been announced for Honda’s latest 2017 models.

The Civic Hatch

The five-door Civic Hatch, first announced in April, is officially on sale from June 10. Four hatchbacks will join the Honda Civic line-up, including the SX Hatch,  SX Sport Hatch and RS Sport Turbo Hatch, powered by two different drive trains – A 1.5-litre VTEC engine, producing 127kW of power, and a 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine, which produces 104kW. Both engines care paired with a new CVT transmission.

Prices start from $32,900 plus on-road costs for the SX Hatch, $36,500 plus on-road costs for the SX Sport Hatch and $40,900 plus on-road costs for the RS Sport Turbo Hatch.

The Civic Type R is the world’s fastest production front-wheel-drive production car

The high-performance Civic Type R, containing a 2.0-litre i-VTEC turbocharged engine partnered with a six-speed manual transmission, producing 228kW of power, has also been given pricing and a release date. Sales have opened for the Type R, with delivery slated for early September this year. The new Type R will cost $59,900 plus on-road costs.

Finally, Honda has released further details on the release of the fifth-generation CR-V. The SUV is powered by a 1.4-litre VTEC engine, producing 140kW of power, and is matched to a CVT transmission.  Demonstrators will arrive in showrooms at the beginning of August.

The Honda CR-V

Prices for the CR-V start at $37,900 plus on-road costs for the 2WD Touring model, $40,700 plus on-road costs for the AWD Touring, $44,900 for the 2WD Sport 7 and $47,900 for the AWD Sport Sensing.

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US car sales mixed in May

General Motors reported a decline in sales for May, down one per cent to 237,364 units. Sales of the GMC Sierra ute fell 8.2 per cent to 16,200 and sales of the GMC Canyon were down 26.3 per cent to 2,477 units.

US sales also dropped one per cent for Fiat Chrysler, down to 193,040 units, with Jeep sales down 15 per cent.

Ford, however, reported an increase in sales, up 2.3 per cent to 240,050 units, with its F-Series ute up 12.8 per cent.

Sales were mixed for the Japanese car makers. Toyota saw a 0.5 per cent drop to 218,248 units, driven by a 17.3 per cent decrease in Toyota and Lexus-branded cars.

But Nissan reported a three per cent sales increase in may to 137,471 units, which the car maker attributed to rising demand for crossovers and SUVs. Sales for Honda grew 0.9 per cent to 148,414 vehicles.

Sales have typically been strong for SUVs on the back of low oil prices and growing economic optimism. In April, however, the segment fell for the first time in 11 months, and remained soft in May.

The Wall Street Journal reports that seasonally-adjusted annual sales in the US ending May 2017 is expected to fall to approximately 16.5 million, well down on the 17.3 million sales in the year ending May 2016.

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2018 Honda CR-V arriving soon

Just in time for the colder months, the Honda CR-V arrives on New Zealand shores in July this year.

The fifth generation, redesigned sport SUV includes a larger quieter cabin with more versatile cargo space as well as more seats, with a seven-seater CR-V model available in NZ for the first time.

“The new Honda CR-V raises the bar in every way, delivering more style, performance, economy, space, safety, connectivity and premium interior than ever before,” says Nadine Bell, general manager marketing, Honda New Zealand.

The new CR-V includes 18” alloy wheels and narrower A-pillars for improved visibility. An electric power tailgate is also part of the package.

The 2018 CR-V will feature CR-V’s first ever turbocharged engine, a more powerful and fuel efficient 1.5 litre, direct-injected and turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder powerplant rated at 142kw of power with 243 Nm of torque.

The 2018 CR-V will also include a 7-inch touchscreen featuring Advanced Display Audio with in-built Navigation and compatibility with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.

The CR-V will come in 2WD and AWD high performance, mid-spec touring models with the addition of a new 2WD sport seven-seater to the luxury sport range and the AWD sport featuring the suite of Honda’s active safety sensing technology.

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Civic Type R bound for NZ shores

The New Zealand launch of the Honda Civic Type R is fast approaching, with preorders now available from Honda dealers.

“We’re happy to announce to our NZ enthusiasts that the long wait for the Type R attitude and performance is nearly over,” says Nadine Bell, general manager marketing for Honda NZ.

A 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine features under the hood, producing 230kW of power and 400Nm of torque, and is matched to a six-speed manual transmission. The body and chassis has also be upgraded for the latest model.

The Type R is the world’s fastest production front-wheel-drive production car, setting a record time of 7 minutes 43:80 seconds at the Nürburgring earlier this month. This is three seconds faster than the previous front-wheel drive record and seven seconds ahead of the previous generation.

Driving modes have been enhanced, with a new ‘Comfort’ setting included alongside ‘Sport’ and ‘+R’ modes. Drivers can modify the dampers, steering force, gear shift feeling and throttle response of the vehicle on demand.

Safety assistance features have also been expanded, and include collision mitigation braking with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control, lanewatch camera and auto high-beam. 

While the Type R is unrated by ANCAP, as it is yet unavailable on Australasian shores, it contains the same safety features which ensured the Honda Civic sedan and hatch’s five-star ratings.

Honda NZ say pricing will be confirmed closer to the Type R’s launch date.

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Civic Hatch set for NZ release

Honda New Zealand has announced the new five-door Civic Hatch will be released in June 2017. The launch date announcement follows news yesterday that the Hatch model (excluding the Type R) received a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Nadine Bell, general manager of marketing for Honda NZ, says that with the “Honda Civic sedan success, achieving over 41 per cent of the private segment share since launch, we are looking forward to adding the Hatch body style in June”.

The tenth-generation Civic Hatch has two powertrain options – a 1.5-litre VTEC engine, which generates 129kW of power and 219Nm of torque, and a 1.8-litre i-VTEC engine. Both are equipped with CVT transmission.

Various safety features are included throughout the range. Dual frontal, side chest and side head-protecting airbags (curtains) come standard, and autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane support systems are available on some variants.

The RS Sport Turbo variant contains a Type-R styled central-mount twin exhaust system and a full lower body kit.

 Pre-orders are open now at registered dealers, with the car to officially go on sale in June, with pricing specifications to come.

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ANCAP for Great Wall

Four vehicles have been rated by safety watchdog ANCAP, with the Great Wall Steed ute scoring the lowest marks at two stars.

Stella Stocks, general manager of motoring services at AA, told Auofile it’s very disappointing that two-star vehicles are sold new in New Zealand.

“The biggest issue for AA is that two-star vehicles can still come in to the country and be sold new. People need to buy the safest vehicle they can afford, and they should check out all the safety features and the ANCAP rating and the areas of concern in the vehicle before they buy.

“Most cars and many utes have five stars, and they are in the secondhand market,” she says.

ANCAP CEO James Goodwin also found the results disappointing. “Despite claims from the vehicle brand that the Chinese dual cab is ‘all-new’ and offers ‘outstanding levels of performance, value, safety and comfort,’ the underpinnings of the Steed differ little to that of the previous generation,” he says.

“While Great Wall Motors has added safety assist technology not available on its earlier offering to the market, the Steed’s structural integrity is like a step back in time,” Stocks added.

“In new cars today we expect to see a very high standard of occupant protection during a crash test. However, the Steed doesn’t come close to meeting that expectation.”

The previous-generation V240 ute also received a two-star rating when it was tested in 2009. The model was discontinued in 2016.

The dual-cab Steed was released in September last year after a new distributor took over from independent importer Ateco Automotive in July 2016.

“While the Steed is equipped with six airbags and electronic stability control, features which were not offered on the previous model, there has been little change to the vehicle’s structure to improve the safety of the passenger cabin,” Goodwin added.

Concerning results from ANCAP included excessive footwell deformation, separation of footwell panels and pedal displacement in the frontal offset crash test, which scored 8.3 out of 16.

Driver and front passenger protection from whiplash was rated marginal, and ANCAP warned that without top-tether child restraints, the ute was unsuitable for transporting young children.

However, three other vehicles received five-star ratings – The Honda Civic sedan and hatch, the Hyundai i30 (and all variants) and the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo Activity van.

The five-star rating applies to all variants of the Honda Civic sedan, with the hatch to be released locally in May. The Type R is the exception and is unrated.

The top rating for the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo Activity applies to all models built from January 2017.

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