WRC Rally Australia 2019 Cancelled Amid Bushfires

Kennards Hire Rally Australia and the final round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship will be cancelled due to serious bushfires that continue to affect much of the northern part of the state of New South Wales (NSW).

The cancellation comes after extensive consultation with the NSW Government, the international motor sports governing body FIA, emergency services and the local community.

NSW is experiencing its worst ever bushfire conditions, which have resulted in the declaration of a State of Emergency, a state-wide total fire ban and conditions in some regions being described as “catastrophic”.

“Considering the best interests and safety of everyone involved in the rally, and of course the wider community, it is not appropriate to conduct the rally,” said Andrew Papadopoulos, Event Chairman.

Papadopoulos said the cancellation was the only course available, considering the safety of the more than 1000 people involved as officials, competitors and in support roles.

“Our thoughts are with the NSW community, especially the people who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes as a result of the fires in northern NSW, and we thank the Rally community for your support and understanding.”

Ticketholders, officials, volunteers and the community can contact Rally Australia for more information at 02 6648 4972 or [email protected].

Four Big Manufacturers Back Trump On California Emissions Challenge

According to Reuters, major car manufacturers are siding with the Trump administration in its bid to bar California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules or zero-emission requirements for vehicles in the United States, the companies said in a filing with a US appeals court.

The move by General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler follows legal challenges by California, 22 other states, and various environmental groups in September. Those challenges aim to undo the Trump administration’s determination, issued in September, that federal law bars California from setting its own tailpipe emission standards and zero-emission vehicle mandates. The group backing Trump also includes Mazda, Nissan, Kia and Subaru, along with seven US states including Alabama, Ohio, Texas, Utah and West Virginia, which argue that without the rule, their residents would have to pay “higher vehicle costs.”

In their filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the manufacturers and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said they backed the administration bid to bar individual emissions rules by states. They asked to intervene, arguing the administration’s rule provided “vehicle manufacturers with the certainty that states cannot interfere with federal fuel economy standards”.

A spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the action “doesn’t change our resolve to fight as long and hard as necessary to protect our standards. The courts have upheld our authority to set standards before and we’re hopeful they will yet again.”

Other car companies – BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen – which announced a voluntary deal with California in July on emissions rules, are not joining the bid to intervene on the administration’s side.

John Bozzella, President and Chief Executive of Global Automakers, a trade group representing major car companies, said those companies had little choice but to back the administration. “It’s been the federal policy for the better part of 40 years that the federal government has the sole responsibility for regulating fuel economy standards, but it doesn’t have to get to that,” Bozzella told reporters, speaking for an ad-hoc group, the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation.

“We can still reach an agreement” on fuel economy rules, Bozzella said, adding that companies still support a “middle ground” between California and the administration that would see rising attainable fuel efficiency requirements.

The Obama-era rules adopted in 2012 called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026, with average annual increases of nearly five per cent, compared with 37 MPG by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option.

After the four manufacturers, including BMW, announced the voluntary California pact, the Justice Department warned them the agreement “may violate federal antitrust laws,” according to documents seen by Reuters.

Euro NCAP Awards Safety Ratings For BMW, Peugeot And Jeep

Euro NCAP has published safety ratings for four vehicles. The BMW 1 Series and 3 Series both achieved the maximum five-star rating, while the Jeep Cherokee and Peugeot 208 both received a four-star rating.

The BMW 1 Series score in adult occupant protection would have been higher, but “the front seat” fell short of a Good rating for whiplash protection. The German car company’s other entrant, the 3 Series, was tested in 7th generation guise, with Euro NCAP saying it now has the best safety performance of all large family cars tested by Euro NCAP against the 2018/2019 protocols.

“It’s good to see the premium brands, from Germany and elsewhere, maintaining the very high standards they have set for themselves and continuing to achieve five-star ratings,” said Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General, Euro NCAP. “I’m sure that BMW’s customers can be confident that the company will continue to strive for the highest standards of safety, even as our protocols get tougher and tougher.”

The Peugeot 208 narrowly missed out on a five-star rating, meeting all requirements except the protection of road users. The previous-generation vehicle had a five-star rating and offered less standard safety technology, but was tested against less stringent requirements in 2012.

The Jeep Cherokee sits firmly on a four-star rating with good but unexceptional performance across the board, but a huge improvement over its larger stablemate, the Wrangler, which was tested last year.

Mahindra, Ford Announce Joint Venture For India, Emerging Markets

Mahindra & Mahindra Limited and Ford Motor Company have signed an agreement to create a joint venture that will develop, market and distribute Ford brand vehicles in India. The same will also be done for both vehicle brands in high-growth emerging markets around the world.

The joint venture will see Mahindra owning a 51 per cent controlling stake and Ford owning the remaining 49 per cent. Ford will transfer its India operations to the joint venture, including its personnel and assembly plants in Chennai and Sanand. Ford will retain its engine plant operations in Sanand as well as the Global Business Services unit, Ford Credit and Ford Smart Mobility.

The joint venture is expected to be operational by mid-2020, dependent on regulatory approvals. The joint venture will be operationally managed by Mahindra and will be equally composed of representatives of both companies.

Ford branded vehicles will be distributed through the already established India dealer network and Mahindra will continue to operate its own independent dealer network in India.

“Mahindra and Ford coming together is a testament to the long history of cooperation and mutual respect between the two companies,” said Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra Group. “Our combined strengths, Mahindra’s expertise in value-focused engineering and its successful operating model, and Ford’s technical expertise, global reach and access to future technology, are a potent recipe for success. At its core, the partnership will be driven by the shared values of both companies, which are focused on caring for our customers, associates and our communities.”

“Ford and Mahindra have a long history of working together, and we are proud to partner with them to grow the Ford brand in India,” said Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company. “We remain deeply committed to our employees, dealers and suppliers, and this new era of collaboration will allow us to deliver more vehicles to consumers in this important market.”

“At Ford, our purpose for 116 years has always been to drive human progress, and that won’t change,” said Jim Hackett, Ford President and CEO. “But to continue to do that, we need to evolve with new and faster ways of not only delighting our customers around the world but also solving their very different needs. Strong alliances like this play a crucial role in assuring we continue to achieve our vision, while at the same time staying competitive and delivering value to our global stakeholders.”

The joint venture expects to introduce three new utility vehicles under the Ford brand, beginning with a new midsize sports utility, while another area of focus will be electric vehicles.

Exports today form about 7 per cent of Mahindra’s vehicle business revenues and its products are exported to South Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Chile, among other nations and areas.

“Emerging economies including India are expected to account for one in three future vehicle sales,” said Dr. Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited. “The joint venture will have a distinct product portfolio with shared platforms and powertrains, the newest technology, high quality and engineering standards from both Mahindra and Ford, at optimised costs. This winning combination will enable the joint venture to successfully position its vehicles in India, as well as unlock the potential of other highly competitive emerging markets.”

“The creation of this joint venture is a pivotal moment in both our companies’ histories,” said Jim Farley, President of Ford New Businesses, Technology & Strategy. “Strong alliances such as this play a crucial role for Ford to compete profitably in the high-volume, affordable vehicle segments so popular with our diverse customer base. By combining our respective talents, we will offer more vehicles to more customers in more places than ever before and deliver profitable growth to both Ford and Mahindra.”

Ford said its newly established International Markets Group (IMG) business unit brings together 100 high-potential, emerged and emerging markets including India, Australia, the ASEAN, the Middle East, Africa and Russia.

Axalta Supports Agoria Solar Team At World Solar Challenge

In early September, the Agoria Solar Team from the University of Leuven in Belgium arrived in Australia, ready to continue preparing for the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge from 13 to 20 October.

Axalta said it donated its Cromax refinish coatings for a final touch up for the University of Leuven’s competing car, BluePoint. The team is on its way toward ensuring the car is looking its best and is ready to tackle the challenge beginning in mid-October.

The Bridgestone World Solar Challenge attracts entries from around the world. This year will mark the eighth consecutive year that the University of Leuven has had a team participate in the event and Axalta has worked with the students since 2015, giving them access to Axalta’s Cromax coatings.

The car was painted at the Cromax Training Centre (CTC) in Mechelen, Belgium, featuring solid white and two shades of blue that were specially developed by Cromax to match the corporate colours of its main sponsor, Agoria.

The racing team will prepare their car for the road race over the next few weeks, which covers 3021 kilometres through the Australian Outback from Darwin to Adelaide.

For more information on the relationship between Cromax and the Agoria Solar Team, click here. Keep up to date with the Agoria Solar Team’s journey via www.facebook.com/solarteam.be or visit www.solarteam.be.

Tesla Earns Top Safety Award From IIHS For Model 3

Tesla has earned the Top Safety Pick+ award for its 2019 Model 3 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It’s the highest award that the IIHS awards vehicles and was obtained by receiving ‘good’ and above ratings across the board in all test categories. The Model 3 joins one other all-electric plug-in vehicle, the Audi e-tron, with the highest safety award.

“Vehicles with alternative powertrains have come into their own,” said IIHS Chief Research Officer, David Zuby. “There’s no need to trade away safety for a lower carbon footprint when choosing a vehicle.”

The Model 3 earned good ratings across the board for crashworthiness. Its standard front crash prevention system earned a superior rating, avoiding collisions in both the 19 km/h and 40 km/h IIHS track tests, while its headlights earned a good rating. The car generally held up well in the driver-side small overlap front test, but the lower door-hinge pillar moved in eight inches, while the door sill buckled.

The Model 3 is the second plug-in vehicle without a petrol engine to earn the Top Safety Pick+ award after the Audi e-tron. Meanwhile, the Hyundai Nexo became the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to earn an award from the IIHS. Like the Model 3 and the e-tron, the Nexo, a midsize luxury SUV, qualifies for Top Safety Pick+ based on standard equipment.

The Nexo is one of three fuel cell vehicles that are commercially available in California, which has promoted the technology and is the only US state with a network of retail hydrogen fuelling stations.

Euro NCAP Awards Five-Star Ratings To Seven Vehicles

Euro NCAP has awarded five-star safety ratings to seven car models: Mercedes-Benz’s first electric car, the EQC, along with its second generation CLA; Škoda’s Kamiq; the fourth generation SsangYong Korando; BMW’s latest Z4; and the new Audi A1. In addition, the Ford Focus – already tested in 2018 – has been reassessed after minor updates and achieved a five-star rating too.

The C-segment Korando SUV is the first five-star car from SsangYong and comes standard with automated emergency braking (AEB), bringing it into line with its competitors.

The Škoda Kamiq is essentially a high-riding Scala, and shares a five-star rating and similar results to the car tested earlier this year.

The Mercedes-Benz EQC achieved good all-round performance during testing as part of its five-star rating.

The latest Mercedes-Benz CLA scored higher than 90 per cent in three of the four areas of safety assessed by Euro NCAP.

BMW’s two-seater Z4 roadster scored well all-round, but its protection of vulnerable road users was especially impressive with an active bonnet that lifts when a pedestrian is hit.

Audi’s A1 performed well in safety tests, featuring its Pre Sense Front technology as standard fit in its AEB system.

Finally, the Ford Focus achieved five stars in 2018, but its front-seat whiplash protection meant it could now capitalise on good results for its AEB system. Ford has improved the design of the seats and head restraints and the car now demonstrates good whiplash protection in rear-end collisions.

Volkswagen do Brasil Develops Its First Vehicle For Overseas Markets

Volkswagen do Brasil will develop a vehicle completely in-house to be produced later in Europe and sold in other international markets.

Volkswagen hopes to strengthen the economic significance of Volkswagen do Brasil with the regionalisation of the South American market. Through 2020, Volkswagen is investing approximately R$7 billion in Brazil for the development of new products, digitalisation and technological innovations and began in 2016. This is based on a restructuring program introduced by Volkswagen to support business opportunities in the South American market.

“The internationalisation of Volkswagen began 60 years ago with construction of the plant in Anchieta, Brazil,” said Ralf Brandstaetter, Chief Operating Officer of Volkswagen Passenger Cars. “South America has been an important market for Volkswagen ever since. We are strengthening our regionalisation strategy with these investments.”

Under its regionalisation strategy, the company launched a product offensive with 20 new models for Brazil as the key market in the region.

“For the first time in our history, we will be offering our very own vehicle concept on the international market, and sharing design, technology and know-how from Brazil with the world,” said Pablo Di Si, President and CEO of Volkswagen Latin America.

The vehicle premiere is planned for spring 2020. Production will commence at the Anchieta plant in the same year and the vehicle will also be built in Europe from 2021.

Daimler Facing More Than One Billion Euro Fine For Diesel Cheating

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler is facing a fine of up to one billion euros for diesel emission-related violations according to German magazine Der Spiegel.

The German motor vehicle authority (KBA) had discovered software deemed to be illegal under existing European Union law fitted to Mercedes-Benz C-class and E-class vehicles and ordered the car company to recall 280,000 vehicles, according to the Der Spiegel article.

The software is claimed to allow diesel-powered C- and E-class models to achieve lower NOx and CO2 emissions in controlled climatic conditions at pre-set speeds on a rolling road during testing than in practice on public roads.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said the investigation was ongoing and would not be concluded before year-end. Der Spiegel says a fine of up to 5000 Euros per vehicle is being considered by the Stuttgart public prosecutor.

Hyundai Launches Solar Roof Charging System

Hyundai is launching its first car with a solar roof charging system. The company says the technology will provide vehicles with additional electrical power, as well as increasing fuel efficiency and driving range.

The solar roof charging system will first feature in the latest generation Sonata Hybrid to support the vehicle’s electric power source, improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions. In the coming years, Hyundai says it will roll out the technology to other vehicles across its range.

“Solar roof technology is a good example of how Hyundai Motor is moving towards becoming a clean mobility provider,” said Heui Won Yang, Senior Vice President and head of the Body Tech Unit of Hyundai Motor Group. “The technology allows our customers to actively tackle emissions issues. We are striving to further expand the application of the technology beyond eco-friendly vehicle line up to vehicles with internal combustion engine.”

Hyundai says the solar roof can charge 30 to 60 per cent of the battery per day with 6 hours of daily charging, and is capable of functioning while the car is in motion. Hyundai expects the roof to increase drivers’ travel distance by an extra 1300km annually.

The system is composed of a solar panel and a controller. Electricity is produced when solar energy – photons of light from the sun – activates the panel’s surface. The electron-hole pairs in silicon cells are then created, and the photons are converted into electricity. The electricity is then converted to the right voltage by the controller, and then stored in the battery.

The new Sonata is now on sale in Korea and will soon be sold in North America. Hyundai says it currently has no plans to expand sales to the European market.