Porsche Fined €535 Million Over Diesel Cheating

German sports car manufacturer and Volkswagen subsidiary Porsche will pay a €535 million fine over diesel vehicles that emitted more harmful pollutants than allowed, according to Stuttgart prosecutors.

“The fine against Porsche AG was levied for negligence in quality control,” the investigators said. Porsche “abstained from a legal challenge” against the decision, the prosecutor’s office added.

The new penalty against Porsche is the latest in a string of fines against the Volkswagen group over its years-long “dieselgate” scandal. The company admitted in 2015 to manipulating 11 million vehicles worldwide to appear less polluting in laboratory tests than they were in real driving conditions.

Following fines against the Volkswagen brand, high-end subsidiary Audi and now Porsche, no further investigations over “administrative offences” remain open against the group, according to a spokesman. But legal proceedings against individuals, including former chief executive Martin Winterkorn, remain open.

Meanwhile, thousands of investors are suing the company for the losses they suffered on its shares when news of the scandal broke, while hundreds of thousands of drivers are also demanding compensation.

So far, the total costs of “dieselgate” for the Wolfsburg-based car giant have risen to €30 billion.

Suzuki Jimny Named World Urban Car Of The Year

The Suzuki Jimny has been named World Urban Car of the Year for 2019 at the New York International Auto Show.

In addition, the Suzuki Jimny also secured third place in the World Car Design of the Year award.

Vehicles were selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprised of 86 prominent automotive journalists from 24 countries around the world.

Upon receiving the award on behalf of Suzuki Motor Corporation Japan, its President, Toshihiro Suzuki said Suzuki is greatly honoured to receive the award.

“The Jimny is the one-and-only compact, authentic off-roader and we have kept true to this concept for almost 50 years. It now has many fans around the world who enjoy its excellent performance and one-of-a-kind functional design, both on and off-road. We accept this award on behalf of our fans, as well as with pride and confidence in our passion to build exciting cars to be the foot of our customers’ everyday lives” said Suzuki.

The 2019 Geneva Motor Show – What’s Hot And What’s Not

The 89th edition of the Geneva International Motor Show is being held at the Palexpo exhibition and trade centre in Le Grand-Saconnex.

This year’s show had a lot to offer, some great and some not so great vehicles, but as expected, there was a lot of electric cars.

From Audi, Fiat and Citroën to Aston Martin, a whole host of automotive brands are offering eco-friendly mobility options. From affordable, commercial cars to the more luxurious models.

Here’s a small selection:

Fiat presented an all-electric vehicle that is affordable for all. The Centoventi (One Hundred and Twenty in Italian) marks the manufacturer’s 120th anniversary and shows its vision for electric mass mobility in the near future.

Dubbed a rival to Tesla’s Model 3, Polestar’s latest car – Polestar 2 – is a fully-electric, five-door fastback coupe and comes at a lower price than the company’s previous model, while claiming to reach 100 kilometres per hour in less than five seconds.

The electric concept vehicle by Spanish manufacturer Seat (part of the Volkswagen Group) is called Minimó and was designed with city-dwellers in mind. It combines the safety and comfort of a car with the agility and easy parking of a motorcycle. It accommodates up to two passengers and features a battery-swap system that can fully recharge the car in a matter of minutes.

Citroën’s Ami One electric concept vehicle is designed to be an alternative to urban transport such as hiring an electric bike or scooter to get around a city or using public transport. The ultra-compact vehicle has a top speed of just 45 kilometres per hour, meaning that in many countries it can be operated by people as young as 16, with or without a driving licence.

Audi’s latest all-electric SUV concept will be the company’s fifth all-electric vehicle when it goes into production in 2020. The Q4 e-tron includes a specially developed exterior blue paint colour, called Solar Sky, which reflects a short-wave fraction of sunlight to reduce heat build-up in the car, meaning less energy is needed to cool the car on hot days.

Aston Martin revealed its Lagonda All-Terrain Concept – a zero-emissions SUV described as elegant yet robust, with futuristic shapes that look like they have been created by “the huge, planetary forces of gravity fields”. In line with this future-facing theme, the Lagonda also features a levitating key, which uses electromagnets to float between the front seats.

Volvo To Impose 180km/h Speed Limit On Its Cars

Volvo Cars says it is sending a strong signal about the dangers of speeding in limiting the top speed of all its cars to 180km/h from 2020.

The company’s Vision 2020, which aims for no one to be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020, is one of the most ambitious safety visions in the automotive industry. But Volvo Cars says it is now broadening its scope to include a focus on driver behaviour, after realising that technology alone will not get it all the way to zero.

The company’s own research has identified three remaining concerns for safety that constitute ‘gaps’ in its ambition to completely end serious injuries and fatalities in its cars, with speeding a prominent one.

“Volvo is a leader in safety: we always have been and we always will be,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive of Volvo Cars. “Because of our research, we know where the problem areas are when it comes to ending serious injuries and fatalities in our cars. And while a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it’s worth doing if we can even save one life.”

Apart from limiting top speeds, the company is also investigating how a combination of smart speed control and geofencing technology could automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals in future.

“We want to start a conversation about whether car manufacturers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver’s behaviour, to tackle things such as speeding, intoxication or distraction,” said Samuelsson. “We don’t have a firm answer to this question but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a pioneer.”

According to Volvo Cars, the problem with speeding is that above certain speeds, in-car safety technology and smart infrastructure design are no longer enough to avoid severe injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident. This is why speed limits are in place in most western countries, but speeding remains ubiquitous and one of the most common reasons for fatalities in traffic.

Beyond speeding, two other problem areas constitute ‘gaps toward zero’. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in large parts of the world, yet it remains a prime reason for injuries and fatalities on today’s roads. The other area is distraction – drivers distracted by their mobile phones or otherwise not fully engaged in driving are another major cause of traffic fatalities.

Volvo Cars says it will present ideas to tackle the problem areas of intoxication and distraction at a special safety event in Gothenburg, Sweden on 20 March.

Honda, Mercedes-Benz And SEAT Off-Roaders Get Top Marks For Safety

The first three cars tested by Euro NCAP in 2019 have all achieved the maximum five-star rating for safety.

The new SEAT Tarraco shares Volkswagen’s MQB platform with the Škoda Kodiaq, rated as five-stars by Euro NCAP in 2017. Against the more stringent protocols of 2019, the Tarraco’s five-star rating is notable, and its score of 97 per cent in adult occupant protection is amongst the best achieved by a car in this category.

The previous-generation Honda CR-V was tested as a diesel in 2013. In a sign of the times, this latest version is tested in petrol-hybrid form, anticipated to be the biggest-selling variant. The car performs well in all areas of safety and secures a top safety rating.

Mercedes-Benz’s rugged G-Class also comes in with a five-star rating, with Euro NCAP noting an “impressive performance” in each of the four areas of assessment.

Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP, said: “Here we have three new vehicles, competing in the same segment and getting top safety ratings. That’s impressive enough but the fact that all three off-roaders are equipped with pedestrian and cyclist AEB systems really demonstrates the power of consumer testing, not only to encourage better performance but also to promote new technologies as standard-fit across Europe.”

Citroën Unveils AMI One Concept

Citroën says it has marked 100 years of innovation and boldness with the unveiling of the Ami One Concept, an all-electric vehicle that “places digital technology at the heart of urban mobility”. The company will exhibit the concept at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

A full electric vehicle concept car capable of carrying two people, the French car manufacturer says the Ami One is faithful to the brand promise “Inspired by You”, and is the company’s response to new customer behaviour and the “challenge of the energy transition in urban environments”.

Designed to be utilised without a driver’s licence in France, the Ami One is accompanied by a global digital ecosystem “fostering a modern, cheerful and broadly accessible mobility experience”.

The concept aims to rethink the customer journey, offering ‘on-demand’ use ranging from five-minutes to five-years. This would cover a range of scenarios from car-sharing and rentals to a full-blown purchase.

The Ami One includes a mobile app that motorists can use to “manage their relationship with the vehicle”, providing access to a portal of services tailored to each journey.

VW’s Dune Buggy Is Back… And Now It’s Electric

At the beginning of March, Volkswagen will reveal the first fully electric version of a new buggy. Taking its cues from popular American dune buggies, the concept vehicle is based on the Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB) – designed to demonstrate how multifaceted the new platform truly is, according to Volkswagen.

The company says the concept of the fully electric buggy is based on the historical predecessors that found their home in California and Australia. Back then, the chassis of the Beetle served as the basis; now, the MEB platform is apparently proving to be just as flexible. This reinterpretation of a proper buggy has no fixed roof or conventional doors, while the free-standing wheels fitted with off-road tyres and open side sills dominate the overall look.

VW says the new MEB concept vehicle shows that the fully electric platform can be used for more than just large-scale series production models. Like previous Beetle chassis, the company feels MEB has the potential to facilitate the development of low-volume niche series.

The company notes that the history of recreational vehicles and its technology is a long one – from the Beetle convertible and special bodies produced by companies such as Hebmüller and Rometsch, to fully open designs of the kind embraced by the Meyers Manx buggy, the Beetle chassis allowed for creative – and sometimes exclusive – custom solutions for decades. Globally, around 250,000 individual vehicles were built as one-offs or at low volumes through to the 1980s.

The fully electric concept buggy will be revealed for the first time at the 89th International Geneva Motor Show (7 to 17 March 2019).

Hyundai Introduces World-First Multi-Collision Airbag System

Hyundai Motor Group has announced its development and future commercialisation of what it says is the world’s first multi-collision airbag system. Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as trees, electrical posts or other vehicles. Hyundai says this occurs in three out of every 10 accidents.

Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

Hyundai’s new technology detects occupant position in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Hyundai says multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Chassis Technology Centre at Hyundai Motor Group. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States, about 30 per cent of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions.

The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8 per cent), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway toll gates (13.5 per cent), highway median strip collisions (8.0 per cent), and sideswiping and collisions with trees and electric poles (4.0 per cent).

Hyundai Motor Group said it analysed multi-collision scenarios in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. The company said it will implement the system in new Hyundai and Kia vehicles in the future.

‘Time-Warp’ Peugeot To Go Under The Hammer

An immaculately-preserved, completely original, one-owner 1991 Peugeot 309 GTi with 210 warranted kilometres on the clock is amongst the early entries for Barons’ Classic Winter Warmer sale at Sandown Park in the UK on 26 February.

The vendor bought the car new in 1991, but worked predominantly overseas and had a second car, so the Peugeot was barely used as the mileage clearly showed.

The car was kept garaged throughout its life and is in showroom condition.

The engine, electricals, interior, bodywork and more are as-new and, with a guide price of £8000 – £11,000, it could be the right opportunity to acquire a ‘new’, classic family sedan that might prove to be a sound investment for the future.

For more information visit www.barons-auctions.com.

UNSW Sunswift Solar Car Sets Guinness World Record

The UNSW Sunswift solar car team last week set a new Guinness World Record for the lowest energy consumption driving across Australia with an electric car.

The student team completed the 4100km journey between Perth and Sydney two days ahead of schedule and averaged 3.25kWh per 100 kilometres, well under the 5.5kWh/100km needed to set the record.

The Sunswift team’s aim for the energy cost was to be less than that of a single tank of fuel. The total costs for the trip turned out to be A$50.

Traveling an average of 600 kilometres each day, the trip was without incident – but ‘Violet’ proved difficult to control.

“Violet is lively on the road a lot, it’s not a production car and you have to kind of handle it like a horse in order to manage it on public roads. But we did it,” said Sunswift team member Hayden Smith.

Violet is the sixth solar car designed and manufactured by the Sunswift team and its first four-seat, family-oriented vehicle. It is five metres long, 2.2 metres wide and stands 1.2 metres high. The vehicle weighs 360 kilograms, thanks in part to its lightweight chassis of carbon fibre monocoque with foam and an aramid honeycomb core.

The car’s solar array consists of 318 SunPower monocrystalline silicon cells with a conversion efficiency of 22 per cent. They charge a modular lithium-ion battery bank that can be sized between 10 and 20 kilowatt-hours, powering twin rear wheel in-hub, brushless DC synchronous motors. Violet has a top speed of 140 km/h.

The car also has front and rear boot space, a reversing camera, parking sensors, an interactive display screen with GPS as well as other creature comforts such as air-conditioning.

“These students have pushed the boundaries of modern engineering and proven that solar powered cars are likely to be a big part of Australia’s motoring future,” said UNSW Dean of Engineering Professor Mark Hoffman, who met the team at the finish line in Sydney.

The team will be busy in the new year preparing for the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, which covers 3000km from Darwin to Adelaide.

The Sunswift Solar Car project has been running at UNSW for 23 years.