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).

Three Stars From ANCAP For New Suzuki Jimny

ANCAP has announced a three-star safety rating for the all new Suzuki Jimny – falling shy of the body’s expected safety standards in three of the four areas of assessment.

“The Jimny misses the mark with structural and design weaknesses, poor protection of pedestrians and cyclists, and lack of effective safety aids,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

“Engineers observed a number of issues in the frontal offset test including excessive deformation of the passenger compartment, with penalties applied for loss of structural integrity, steering wheel and pedal intrusion and knee injury risk. Insufficient inflation of the driver’s airbag was also observed with the dummy contacting the steering wheel through the airbag, indicating reduced protection in more severe crashes.”

Performance of the Jimny’s autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system is limited with no cyclist detection or night-time functionality. ANCAP said weak performance was observed for the Jimny’s avoidance of pedestrians, and active lane keep assistance is not available.

“The results show that the fundamentals of vehicle safety are still critical, and simply fitting an AEB system is not enough to earn a good rating,” said Goodwin.

“While marketed for off-road driving, these vehicles also spend much of their time on regular roads and buyers shouldn’t have to forego safety.”

The strongest area of assessment for the Jimny was Child Occupant Protection, with ANCAP saying it scored well for its ability to accommodate a range of child restraints in its two rear seats, and provide good levels of protection to children in frontal and side crash scenarios.

The Suzuki Jimny scored:

73 per cent – Adult Occupant Protection
84 per cent – Child Occupant Protection
52 per cent – Vulnerable Road User Protection
50 per cent – Safety Assist

The 3-star ANCAP safety rating applies to both GL and GLX variants sold in Australia and New Zealand.

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.

Kia Australia Revs Up Picanto, Cerato

The tiny Picanto has had a GT added to its name and is now fitted with a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre turbo engine that produces 74kW of power and 172Nm of torque, driving through the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox.

The Picanto GT has been suspension-tuned for Australia by Kia’s local in-house ride and handling team, who were able to build off the basic Picanto’s Macpherson front strut and u-shaped rear torsion beam architecture to make the ride more dynamic. Through a more aggressive tune for the shock absorbers and a stiffer spring rate, the team said it was able to provide greater body control with better road feedback and improved ride comfort.

Changes to the steering mapping are said to give a quicker response and enhanced stability when under load, while lower-profile 195/45 R16 tyres improve both grip and predictability when pushing towards the limit.

The GT shares all the features of the current-generation Picanto, including the stiff body shell composed of 44 per cent advanced high-strength steels.

Kia has also added more sportiness to its Cerato sedan and hatch, installing a 1.6-litre turbo engine along with a ride and handling package providing, what the company says, it its most focused drive to date in Kia’s small car garage.

The Cerato GT has a “subtle yet distinctive” body kit, dual exhausts, paddle shifters, alloy sports pedals and a flat-bottomed leather sports steering wheel.

Its four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbo engine produces 150kW at 6000rpm and 265Nm of torque from 1500-4500rpm, all sent to the front wheels through a 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Sport mode is accessed by tipping the gear lever across to the driver, with aggressive gear shift characteristics and sharper steering maps.

The Picanto GT 5-speed manual is currently priced at $17,990 drive away, while the Cerato GT in either hatch or sedan is available now at $31,990 drive away.

‘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.

ANCAP Releases December 2018 Round Of Ratings

The Ford Focus, Hyundai Santa Fe, Genesis G70 and Jaguar I-Pace have all been awarded 5 stars.

“Brands have responded to a far more stringent test regime, further increasing the standard consumers expect when it comes to safety, with all 2018 ratings meeting five stars,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

The new Ford Focus scored well, with Child Occupant Protection standing out as its strongest area of performance.

“The Focus scored maximum points in destructive Child Occupant Protection testing and is equipped with both forward and reverse auto braking,” Goodwin said.

The electric-powered Jaguar I-Pace performed well, scoring five stars for all variants.

“The I-Pace is one of only a few models to offer an external airbag, which is designed to provide increased protection to pedestrians.”

An innovative new child occupant detection feature has been incorporated into the new generation Hyundai Santa Fe, alerting the driver when leaving the car if a rear seat occupant is detected to reduce the chance of a baby or young child being left in an unattended vehicle.

“It is encouraging to see vehicle brands incorporate innovative new safety features,” Goodwin said.

“Engineers identified two issues with the deployment of the curtain airbag in Santa Fe models fitted with a panoramic roof, with the airbag tearing and a portion of the airbag being caught on the upper belt anchorage. Penalties were applied to scoring of the side impact and oblique pole tests to reflect the increased head injury risk.”

“ANCAP notified the Australian vehicle standards regulator of the issue, resulting in a national recall to remedy models already in service. A production change has been implemented by Hyundai for new models.”

“The seven-seat SUV also lacks top tether anchorages for third row seating positions, leaving the third row unable to install child restraints and carry young children.”

The luxury medium car segment received a boost with a further five-star performer in the Genesis G70.

“The Genesis G70 is fitted with a well-performing lane support system, with Good performance recorded across testing, including some of the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios,” said Goodwin.

Five-star ANCAP safety ratings apply to all variants of Ford Focus (from December 2018), Hyundai Santa Fe (from July 2018), Genesis G70 (from 2018) and I-Pace (from December 2018).

Carlos Ghosn Arrested Over Allegations Of Financial Misconduct

Carlos Ghosn, chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, was arrested Monday in Japan over concerns he had underreported his income and misused company funds.

In a statement, Nissan said it had been conducting an internal investigation over the past several months regarding misconduct involving Ghosn and Representative Director Greg Kelly based on a whistleblower report.

According to the company, the investigation discovered that over many years both Ghosn and Kelly had been reporting their compensation in the Tokyo Stock Exchange securities report as less than what they actually received, the aim being to reduce Ghosn’s disclosed compensation.

Nissan also discovered “numerous other significant acts of misconduct, such as personal use of company assets” related to Ghosn, with “Kelly’s deep involvement  also confirmed”, according to a statement.

The company says it has been providing information to the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office and is fully cooperating with their investigation.

In a dramatic move, the company said CEO Hiroto Saikawa will propose to the company board to promptly remove Ghosn from his positions as Chairman and Representative Director, as well as removing Kelly from his own Representative Director position. The company cited the misconduct’s violation of its board of directors’ duty of care as the reason for the move.

The development heavily tarnishes what was a distinguished career for Ghosn, who helped restore Renault’s profitability in the late 1990s and executed the recovery of Nissan in just one year in the early 2000s.

Mitsubishi Motors Confirms New Australian Headquarters To Be Built In Adelaide

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation COO, Trevor Mann, has announced that a new Australian headquarters for the company will be constructed at Adelaide with a projected ‘move-in’ date from late 2020.

The announcement comes following an extensive national search to find a suitable head office location which would support the brand’s future business requirements.

At the announcement, Mann told the company’s workforce that while a relocation of its headquarters interstate was considered, Adelaide Airport was the smart choice for the future of the business.

“MMAL is successful in Australia and we know that the workforce is a key factor in that success, which is why we are keeping the national headquarters in South Australia, and creating a new facility located within the Adelaide Airport precinct to ensure MMAL can more efficiently support its dealers and staff interstate,” said Mann.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) CEO, John Signoriello said the new head office will provide state-of-the-art facilities and easier access for collaboration with our teams across Australia.

“MMAL is a national team that relies on collaboration with our regional staff and dealers to get our job done, therefore Adelaide Airport proved to be the logical place for our new headquarters,” said Signoriello.

Mann and Signoriello met with the South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall MP, to advise him of the decision to keep the Mitsubishi Motors Australia head office in South Australia and to thank the state government for their support.

As part of its investment in South Australia, the state government offered a grant of $2 million to assist MMAL in the construction and fit out of the new facility.

Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall MP, said he was delighted that Mitsubishi Motors Australia decided to keep its headquarters in Adelaide.

“South Australia has been home to Mitsubishi for over 38 years and in that time has contributed significantly to our state and likewise, South Australia has been a major supporter of Mitsubishi,” said Premier Marshall.

“This decision is a significant vote of confidence in South Australians and the state government looks forward to continuing a productive and positive partnership with Mitsubishi.”

The new Mitsubishi Motors Australia headquarters will be located at the entrance to Adelaide Airport, with the company saying this allows efficient access for interstate dealers and staff to attend conferences and utilise state-of-the-art sales and aftersales training facilities.