New Vehicle Sales for March

New car sales in Australia during March totaled 93,984 vehicle … a drop of almost one percent compared to the same time last year. While there’s no doubt that manufacturers would like to see more sales the softening in the new car market is inline with other retail and consumer indicators.

However it seems that those retail and consumer indicators might have taken more of a dive towards the end of March than is obvious when the figures for the whole of the month are considered.

That situation may vary from one part of the country to another but in this part of Queensland where our office is located retailers are reporting a real slow-down towards the end of March and it has continued on into April.

So once again it will be interesting to see how the figures for April turn out … especially considering the rising cost of fuel.

During March Toyota sold 18,466 units, Holden predictably was second with 10,816 units and Ford returned to third spot with 8,698 units.

By | April 5th, 2011|News|Comments Off on New Vehicle Sales for March

Petrol Soars in Queensland

The price of petrol in Queensland seems to have been fairly stable for the last few weeks but that all came to an end yesterday.

At 10am the price of a litre of ULP at BP Caboolture – the main stop for people travelling north or south on the Bruce Highway – was 136.9 c/l when we went through heading south.

Four hours later when we were heading north the price of a litre of ULP had gone up to 149.9 c/l. In four hours the price of petrol rose 13 cents a litre.

The industry says that the price rise is due to the conflict in Libya. Regardless of what caused the price rise it’s a scary peek into what’s to come in the years ahead. We may look back on 149.9 c/l and think that price point was rather cheap.

By | March 6th, 2011|News|Comments Off on Petrol Soars in Queensland

The Strangest Recall of All?

As Honda in the United States starts a large recall on Honda Accord Hybrids, Mazda is also starting a recall for one of the strangest reasons of all.

Mazda in the United States is currently recalling over 50,000 vehicles in the Mazda6 range because spiders like to build nests in the fuel system.

The ABC news website is currently reporting that the yellow-sac spider likes to build it’s nest in part of the fuel system and that causes a backup of pressure that leads to cracking in the fuel lines and fuel leakages.

The fix involves the fitting of a small spring that will keep the spiders out.

By | March 4th, 2011|News|Comments Off on The Strangest Recall of All?

Australian New Car Sales Drop Slightly in February

Official VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 80,896 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in February (down 1.6 per cent or 1,323 vehicles compared to the same month in 2010).

“Sales to private customers increased 4.1 per cent during February to total 39,776 units – outselling business and fleet purchases,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

Sales in Queensland that had slumped in January recovered slightly in February and the FCAI expects further growth in Queensland in the coming months as people replace their damaged vehicles.

Toyota was the best performing brand in January selling 14,604 vehicles, followed by Holden with 10,314 and then Mazda for the second month in a row with 7,644.

By | March 3rd, 2011|News|Comments Off on Australian New Car Sales Drop Slightly in February

Toyota Recalls Two Million Vehicles

toyota-logo… but not in Australia.

If you were a Toyota fan owner then the news that appeared on Thursday Toyota was about to recall two million would have been horrible. Two million vehicles … that’s a HUGE number … and it was spread across a range of models including Toyota’s premium Lexus brand.

761,000 RAV4 spread across five year models, 603,000 4Runners spread across seven year models, 17,000 Lexus LX570 vehicles not to mention 372,000 2006-2007 Lexus RX330, RX 350 and RX400h models as well as 397,000 Highlander and Highland Hybrid vehicles … all to have their carpets fixed so that there would be no chance of the carpet causing the accelerator pedal to jam open.

But the news wasn’t all bad … at least not for Toyota owners here in Australia. According to Toyota the sticking accelerator problem was caused by the carpet, the plastic pad and the all-weather floor mat that was designed specifically for left-hand drive vehicles.

Toyota Australia and Lexus Australia have inspected local vehicles and confirmed that the conditions do not affect right hand drive vehicles sold in Australia.

So if you’re here in Australia and wondering if your Toyota is safe to drive then the answer is definitely yes. None of those left-hand drive components that are causing the problem have made it to Australia.

By | February 26th, 2011|News, Toyota|Comments Off on Toyota Recalls Two Million Vehicles

Who Sells the Most Australian Built Cars?

toyota-camry-sportivoQuick … no peeking at the image … which car maker sells the most Australian built cars?

The answer may surprise you because it’s not Holden. Sure they sell more Commodores in Australia month after month and no other car maker comes close with a single model but Toyota build a heck of a lot more Camrys at their plant in Melbourne and exports most of them overseas.

Toyota builds more than 95,000 Camry models at their Melbourne plant each year and more than 70,000 of them are exported to more than 20 other countries.

Toyota’s Altona factory, which produces Hybrid Camry and the V6 Aurion in addition to Camry, is one of eight plants around the world where Camry is built. The other plants are in the United States (two), Japan, Thailand, China, Russia and Vietnam.

Camry was also the best-selling car in the United States last year with 327,804 sales – more than 45,000 ahead of its nearest rival.

By | February 7th, 2011|News|3 Comments

The New Ford Ranger Approaches the Final Frontier

ford-ranger-double-cabIf space is the final frontier then the new Ford Ranger Double Cab might have got very close to crossing that line … just so long as you can be bothered to stow everything away neatly and not just chuck it on the back seat or on the floor behind the front seat.

Not only can the Ranger swallow any number of things in its cargo box, the Double Cab model has 23 stowage spaces in its cabin – more than many rivals – which can store a wide number and variety of objects.

“We are very passionate over every millimetre,” according to the package supervisor, Product Development, Ford Australia, David Stanley. “That’s the difference between a good car and a great car – lots of attention to every last millimetre.”

Door pockets can easily fit 1.5-litre bottles while the glove box is big enough for a 16-inch laptop computer. A separate driver’s glove box provides greater accessibility to items such as a can of soft drink, sunglasses, a wallet or keys.

The 8.5-litre centre console bin – also the largest in the segment – helps keep up to six beverage cans cool with a duct blowing cold air from the air-conditioner. It is big enough to hold CDs, 600-millilitre bottles and takeaway food containers. The console bin also has an upper tray to store a mobile phone, wallet and coins.

At the back, the rear seats fold up to reveal storage bins for items such as tools, rope, 4×4 recovery straps.

The seats also fold down to store items such as a jack, a tyre inflator, a one-litre oil bottle and a first aid kit. On selected models, the centre armrest in the rear seatback folds down and includes two cupholders.

Engineers have chased down every spare millimetre in the cabin to deliver a truck that is not only one of the most spacious in its class but also has the most amount of practical stowage space.

Instead of succumbing to the easy solution of making something bigger whenever an engineering problem cropped up, they relentlessly squeezed out every millimetre to reduce wasted space.

The Ranger made its successful world premiere in Sydney last September ahead of its Q3 release this year.

Search for space
With cupholders and seatback pockets that hold bulky street directories becoming run of the mill, Ford engineers constantly look out for “dead spaces” that can be converted into useable storage areas.

The rear of the centre console bin had quite a lot of space free under the double opening console bin lid and tray hinge. The engineers had not originally planned to put a storage area there but the space was for the taking. So they put in a pocket that could fit a wallet, a mobile phone or an MP3 player.

In other instances, a clever bit of innovative thinking actually converted a design feature into a viable storage space. A slight recess has been put into the top of the instrument panel as a design feature. But by putting in two small ribs across the recess, it became an area which could hold an office pass or other small items.

One of the biggest challenges in designing a truck that will be sold in 180 countries across five continents was having to satisfy the legal requirements in each country. Finding a place to store the fire extinguisher – a safety requirement in many countries – was a prime example. Each country had specific stipulations on the size and location of the fire extinguisher, resulting in numerous different, and sometimes contradictory, requirements.

The engineers looked at storing it along the tunnel but it took up too much legroom.

They thought of putting it inside the glove box but that would not leave much room for anything else.

In the end, they tucked it underneath the glove box. Ergonomic research showed that it did not affect people getting in and out of the car and the position was also accessible enough for smaller-built drivers to reach over and release the fire extinguisher in an emergency.

“The number of storage spaces is becoming a key why-buy with more customers using their truck for both work and family,” Stanley said. “We intentionally went for the biggest spaces wherever we could. Where the competitors could fit only smaller bottles, we could fit larger ones.

“We went all out to make sure the all-new Ford Ranger is class-leading in stowage. And we did it.”

But I’m not sure that most blokes would be that anal about stowing everything in the optimum space … not when you’ve got all that spare room on the back seat

By | February 4th, 2011|News|1 Comment

Toyota FJ Cruiser

fj-cruiserThe Toyota FJ Cruiser will start appearing in dealers’ showrooms in Australia late next month. Early next month I’m of to the press launch of the FJ Cruiser and I’m really looking forward getting behind the wheel and seeing what this 4WD can do.

Now I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that something that looks like this does is not really going to be a serious 4WD. Up until now what marketing Toyota has done here in Australia for the FJ Cruiser has seemed to target a younger market … the type who might want to take a vehicle like this on a surfing trip so they can do some beach bashing in it.

If that’s the impression that you might have gained about the Toyota FJ Cruiser then the lasted information that Toyota has released about this vehicle might change your mind.

Sure it’s all bright and shiny and doesn’t look like the sort of 4WD you might want to take away into the bush but don’t let all that bright shiny paintwork and trendy body panels fool you.

The FJ Cruiser has the best departure and break-over angles in the Toyota 4WD range – 31 and 29 degrees respectively. Its approach angle of 36 degrees is bettered only by the 70 Series.

toyota-fj-cruiser-side

Larger angles can allow a vehicle to negotiate steeper climbs or descents without having parts of the vehicle body, such as the bumpers, make contact with the ground.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser also provides good ground clearance under the rear differential and vital chassis components – a minimum of 224mm, second only to the LandCruiser 200 Series.

And those big 17-inch wheels and short overhangs – 865mm at the front and 1115mm at the rear – contribute to the FJ Cruiser’s off-road prowess.

A vehicle’s break-over angle is particularly important for off-road transitions from a level area into a descent and from a climb to flat ground.

A good departure angle can enable a driver who has overshot a turn-off on a steep, narrow track to return in reverse, rather than doing a three-point turn.

And just to reinforce the idea that the Toyota FJ Cruiser is a serious off-road vehicle in the minds of us scribblers, Toyota is taking us into some rough country in South Australia so they can show us just what this bright and shiny 4WD can really do.

By | February 4th, 2011|News|1 Comment

An Interesting Month for New Car Sales

It seems that January 2011 was an interesting month for new car sales here in Australia.

While the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries want to describe January’s sales as “robust” the actual figures show that new vehicle sales were down by 1.7 per cent compared to this time last year.

However the figures may not be anything but an anomaly because there was a “significant decrease in sales in Queensland” during January (a decrease of 12.8 percent to be precise) … and as we all know, the weather up here has not been the best.

But there are two other interesting points about these sales figures that are worth thinking about. The first is that private buyers were really into the market and sales to private individual rose by 13.6 per cent. At the same time sales of new vehicles to businesses declined during January.

If that decline continues then perhaps we should begin to worry.

The other interesting point is that Ford fell out of the top three yet again and could only manage an equal fourth spot along with Hyundai with 8.7 per cent of the market.

The top three spots were held down by Toyota with 20.1 per cent of sales; Holden with 11.4 per cent of sales and Mazda with 9.8 per cent.

Next month’s figures could be even more interesting.

By | February 4th, 2011|News|Comments Off on An Interesting Month for New Car Sales

A Moment in Australian Automotive History

i-MiEV-chargerMitsubishi Motors Australia has unveiled the very first public EV fast charging unit in Australia.

The unit has been installed in front of the company’s Adelaide, South Australia head office and is designed to offer the convenience of a fast charge facility for drivers of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle.

The FCU is an Aker Wade unit installed by Club Assist in Australia and is powered by 100 per cent accredited green electricity provided by AGL Energy Limited.

Normally, the i-MiEV is recharged on a standard 15 amp household power point over a seven hour period. However, the fast charge unit can recharge up to 80 per cent of an i-MiEV’s battery in 30 minutes, or provide an extra-quick top-up of around 50 per cent in just 15 minutes.

By | February 2nd, 2011|News|2 Comments

A Little Car with Lots of Attitude

toyota-iQ-racing-carThe Toyota iQ racing car might be a little car but it would give any street car a huge fright out on the race track.

Toyota built this car for display at this year’s Auto Salon in Tokyo and it’s definitely going to attract some attention. Sure there are plenty of cosmetic upgrades in this little beast including include a deep front air dam, huge lower air intake, racing wheels, massive spoiler, rear diffuser, and a dual exhaust system.

And it’s also comes with a roll cage, sports seats and racing instruments just to reinforce the idea that this is a racing car.

But there’s one thing that you can’t see from this single photo that Toyota has released and it’s what gives the Toyota iQ racing car some serious credibility. Sitting on top of the motor is a supercharger and a specially tweaked engine that can make this little car fly.

Toyota’s other iQ is a rather mild-mannered city car sold in Europe and Japan.

By | February 1st, 2011|News|2 Comments

The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid

volvo-v60Volvo is on the verge of unveiling something new in the hybrid car world … a plug-in hybrid with a diesel motor driving the front wheels and an electric motor driving the rear wheels.

We’ll see Volvo’s new hybrid technology in the form of a Volvo V60 that will have its first showing at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show on March 1.

Unlike most hybrids that use a computer controlled combination of conventional engine and electric engine to power the car the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid will allow the driver to control the form of propulsion that he wants to use.

A range of 50km for the electric engine may not sound like much but it’s likely that many drivers will choose that option and save the diesel for longer journeys.

The engines
The front wheels of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid will be driven by a five-cylinder 2.4-litre D5 turbodiesel, which produces 215 horsepower and maximum torque of 440 Nm. The rear axle features ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive) in the form of an electric motor producing 70 horsepower, which receives its power from a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

The car features a six-speed automatic transmission.

Volvo will release more details on March 1 but Volvo does say that this vehicle is ready to go into production and with the price of fuel on the rise again it’s hard to imagine that we won’t see the V60 Plug-in Hybrid in production.

By | January 28th, 2011|News|1 Comment

More Recalls for Toyota

toyota-logoThe Australian Broadcasting Commission is reporting this morning that Toyota is about to recall more than 1.5 million vehicles in Japan and overseas to fix a problem with leaking fuel lines.

The recall is said to cover 16 different models built between 2000 and 2008 and includes 1.2 million vehicles in Japan with the balance being vehicles shipped overseas.

By | January 27th, 2011|News|Comments Off on More Recalls for Toyota

The Commodore Becomes a Patrol Car

It’s always great to see an Australian icon start to make it big overseas and it could be that Americans will be seeing a lot more of the Australian Commodore soon … hopefully not in their rearview mirrors with the lights flashing.

A change of name and the Holden Commodore is now the Chevy Caprice and it’s all decked out to chase the bad guys.

By | January 24th, 2011|News|1 Comment

SLS AMG E-Cell goes into production

Back in September the electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG sports car was just a concept but last week Mercedes-Benz announced that this stunner was going into production.

Follow the link to the original article for all the details and photos of an electric vehicle that is really going to push the limits and stay tuned for price and availability.mercedes-amg-e-cell

By | January 22nd, 2011|News|Comments Off on SLS AMG E-Cell goes into production

The New Kia Rio

kia-rioKia is set to launch their next version of the very popular Kia Rio at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 1 so until then we’ve got to be satisfied with these artist’s impressions.

While artist’s impressions are often more fantasy than fact these drawings do suggest that we’re in for something special when we see the new Rio in March. The new Kia Rio is longer, lower and wider than the current Rio andit’s designed to appeal to consumers in the 25 to 49 age range.

Kia describes their new Rio as “sporty and elegant” with an interior that “will offer a feeling of quality typically associated with larger, more expensive models”.

kia-rio-rear

The current model Kia Rio sold more than 205,000 units worldwide in 2010 and you can bet that Kia is expecting big things from the new Kia Rio.

kia-rio-dash

By | January 13th, 2011|News|1 Comment

Toyota FJ Cruiser

toyota-fjcruiserToyota has released another teaser photo of its new FJ Cruiser and it should certainly whet the appetites of those who want a genuine off-road vehicle that doesn’t come with carpet and cloth-upholstered seats that you might never want to get dirty.

No, according to Toyota that’s not what the FJ Cruiser is all about although it does come with some creature comforts such as air-conditioning, an eight-speaker six-CD sound system with Bluetooth capability and steering-wheel controls, reversing camera and keyless entry.

What helps make the interior of the Toyota FJ Cruiser so attractive to people who want to get down and dirty is the seat and floor materials that are easy to clean after off-road adventures.

It’s been quite a few years since you could just turn a hose on the floor of an SUV to clean it.

fj-cruiser-interior

Toyota has also gone to some lengths to keep the dashboard and steering wheel simple so that even people wearing gloves can use the controls.

The interior is also designed to be flexible. The FJ Cruiser will seat five but the rear seat can be folded flat and the cushions removed to allow more carry space.

While the FJ Cruiser is new to Australia it has been around in America for some time and in the respected J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Initial Quality Study, it was rated at the top of the Compact Crossover/SUV segment.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser will be released in March and Aussie Motoring has been invited to attend the release so we’re looking forward to some interesting off-road fun

By | January 13th, 2011|News|3 Comments

Mini Beachcomber

mini-beachcomberRemember this rather eye-catching BMW Mini concept car? The Mini Beachcomber Concept was announced towards the end of 2009 and it certainly aroused some interest.

Unfortunately reports are beginning to appear that suggest that the Mini Beachcomber will stay just as concept and never enter into production.

Apparently vehicle safety legislation in the US means that the design as we see here is not strong enough to pass side impact tests and it’s just not possible to add all the extra side bracing that the law requires a vehicle like this to have.

By | January 8th, 2011|News|1 Comment

Honda CR-V – new features

honda-crvHonda Australia has announced that the Honda CR-V Sport and Luxury models now come with even more goodies for what Honda describes as our “long, hot summer.”

The new pack, worth $2,500 but available free with any CR-V Sport or Luxury model purchased during January, February or March, includes roof-racks, side steps and a DVD unit.

The high resolution all-in-one DVD, CD and MP3 unit has wireless headphones, an SD card slot and USB port. Depending on where you’re living this “long, hot summer” some form of flotation device might have been more useful.

Right now the flood waters here in Queensland are going down but the residents of places like Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Theodore will need our help for a long time to come. Please give generously to the victims of the Queensland floods.

By | January 7th, 2011|News|1 Comment

New Vehicle Sales in Australia in 2010

Despite the fact that some parts of the Australian economy are dragging their feet the Australian motor industry saw another great year for new car sales and over a million new vehicles were sold in Australia in 2010.

Official VFACTS data released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) shows that 1,035,574 passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles were sold in the calendar year 2010 (up 10.5 per cent or 98,246 vehicles compared to 2009).

“This is an exceptional outcome and is the second highest result on record and only the third time ever that the market exceeded more than one million sales,” FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said.

“The result is very encouraging given all the challenges of the year – the prospect of higher interest rates, political uncertainty and the withdrawal of market stimulus,” he said.

“Consumers clearly recognised the safety and environmental benefits of upgrading to a new vehicle and in such a competitive market they were rewarded with good vehicles at good prices,” Mr McKellar said.

Looking ahead:

“We expect 2011 will be a year of consolidation with the prospect of further improvement on the growth achieved last year,” he said.

“With continuing strong levels of vehicle affordability there is no reason why the new vehicle market won’t continue to perform better than other areas of the economy,” Mr McKellar said.

Toyota was the best performing brand in 2010 for the eighth year in a row with a market share of 20.7%, ahead of Holden with 12.8% and Ford with 9.2%.

The most popular vehicle model, for the fifteenth year in a row, was the Holden Commodore; ahead of the Toyota Corolla then the Toyota Hilux.

Top Ten Models

1 Holden Commodore 45,956
2 Toyota Corolla 41,632
3 Toyota Hilux 39,896
4 Mazda 3 39,003
5 Hyundai i30 29,772
6 Ford Falcon 29,516
7 Holden Cruze 28,334
8 Toyota Camry 25,014
9 Mitsubishi Lancer 23,076
10 Hyundai Getz 21,547

Top Ten Brands

1 Toyota 214,718
2 Holden 132,923
3 Ford 95,284
4 Mazda 84,777
5 Hyundai 80,038
6 Nissan 62,676
7 Mitsubishi 62,496
8 Honda 40,375
9 Subaru 40,025
10 Volkswagen 38,016

By | January 6th, 2011|News|1 Comment