Toyota Wins Le Mans 24h With Fernando Alonso

Toyota finally broke its long-standing Le Mans 24 Hours curse by claiming a dominant victory in the 86th running of the event with the #8 car shared by Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.

The two TS050 Hybrids were a class apart from their LMP1 rivals, with the battle for the win quickly boiling down to a two-way battle between the Toyotas.

It was a see saw battle between the #8 machine and the #7 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez for the majority of the distance, with a rapid night stint by Alonso helping to ease the effects of a 60s stop-and-go penalty earned by Buemi for speeding in a slow zone.

Aussie driver Matt Campbell in just his second year of international competition with Porsche, was handed his Le Mans debut with a seat in the Dempsey-Proton 911 RSR alongside Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer. The trio dominated the GTE-Am class for the majority of the race, with their #77 Porsche beating the #53 Ferrari by a little under two minutes.

Daimler To Recall 238,000 Diesel Vehicle Over Use Of Defeat Devices

The German government has ordered car manufacturer Daimler to recall 238,000 vehicles in Germany after they were found to be fitted with illegal software that masks diesel emissions.

Across Europe a total of 774,000 diesel vehicles could contain ‘defeat devices’ and Daimler said it would recall them all.

In an official statement, the Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt–(KBA) said it had ordered Mercedes to immediately recall selected Vito, C-Class and GLC models in Germany:

Among the models said to be affected are the Vito 119 CDI, C220d and GLC 220d.

The KBA has not indicated the age of the cars involved, although officials suggest they include latest-generation models with Euro 6 emissions certification.

Transport Ministers Agree To Drafting New Laws For Automated Vehicles

A new approach to driving laws in Australia will see the development of purpose-built legislation to allow an automated driving system (ADS) to drive more automated motor vehicles in place of a human.

National Transport Commission (NTC) Chief Executive Paul Retter said a new national law, due to be in place by 2020, would bring certainty to manufacturers and operators looking to bring more automated vehicle technology to Australia.

“With automated vehicles, there will be times when an ‘automated driving system’, rather than a human, will be in control of the vehicle. We need a nationally consistent law to know who is in control of a motor vehicle at any point in time,” Retter said.

“Without a change to existing laws or new law, there would be no-one to hold responsible for compliance with our road rules when an automated driving system is in control of a vehicle.”

Retter said the NTC believed a uniform national approach will help automated vehicle manufacturers and the public understand the legal framework they are operating in and accelerate the introduction of automated vehicles in Australia.

Last month (May), transport ministers agreed to a uniform approach across all states and territories to ensure there is always a legal entity in charge of driving when an automated driving system is engaged. This is set out in the NTC Policy Paper Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles. The new legislation would be in place by 2020 in time for the anticipated commercial rollout of automated vehicles in Australia.

The NTC proposed the introduction of a uniform law to:

  • allow an automated driving system (rather than a human) to perform the dynamic driving task when it is engaged
  • ensure that there is always a legal entity responsible for driving
  • set out any obligations on relevant entities, including the ADS entity, and users of automated vehicles
  • provide flexible compliance and enforcement options.

The NTC consulted widely with government and industry in 2017/18 with a discussion paper on changing driving laws to support automated vehicles.

Following on from the ministers’ approval, the NTC will work closely with road agencies and transport departments to develop the detailed policy recommendations and legislative analysis necessary to establish the new purpose-built national law by 2020.

“This is a considerable change to national road transport laws, to support the significant changes we see coming in transport technology,” Retter said.

Aussies In Top Two Motor Racing Wins

Australia’s own racing drivers won two of the most prestigious motor racing events this weekend with Daniel Ricciardo snatching the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix while down on power for more than 50 laps of the unforgiving street circuit. Ricciardo had started from pole after smashing the circuit record in final qualifying. Sebastian Vettel was next nearly eight seconds behind followed by Lewis Hamilton in third spot.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Will Power won his first career Indianapolis 500 after taking the lead from Stefan Wilson with less than five laps to go. Power started third on the front row and ran out front most of the race.

Danica Patrick’s professional driving career ended after crashing out on Lap 67. Patrick started the race seventh and ran inside the top 16 before getting loose and hitting the wall. The 36-year-old was able to climb out of the car under her own power before making a visit to the medical centre.

Ford Australia Launches 2nd Car

Ford Australia announced the launch of 2nd Car, a pilot programme that provides eligible new Ford buyers with affordable access to a second Ford vehicle for up to two weeks during their first two years of vehicle ownership.

The membership programme is a global first for Ford and aims to give consumers a taste of how vehicle ownership and mobility may evolve in the future, with new models for vehicle access, ownership and sharing being explored. Created and piloted in Australia, 2nd Car may be expanded to other markets in the future.

2nd Car is available to new Ranger and Escape customers at participating dealerships across the country. To be eligible for membership, customers must be a Private or Blue Business Fleet buyer purchasing a new or demonstrator vehicle. The Mustang, one of Ford’s most well-known and coveted cars, is the first vehicle available to 2ndCar members for up to two weeks. Drivers must be fully licensed and over 25 years of age to drive the Mustang.

Ford’s long-term goal is to expand the programme, so that the purchase of any new Ford vehicle will enable access to the entire Ford line up.

How 2nd Car works

When purchasing a new car, eligible buyers can sign up for 2nd Car membership at participating dealerships for an enrolment fee of $500 (including GST).

When booking their Mustang, customers will pay an additional fee which varies based on the Ford vehicle purchased, and the length of the loan.

Mustang Loan Period Ranger Owners Escape Owners
One week $250 $375
Two weeks $500 $750

Programme participants can book their 2nd Car vehicle via a dedicated website, https://www.ford.com.au/ford2ndcar/login, similar to a hotel booking website.

The Ford 2nd Car programme offers an affordable way to experience other Ford vehicles, and friends and family can drive the second vehicle for no additional fee provided they meet the driver rules.

More information about Ford 2nd Car is available at https://www.ford.com.au/ford2ndcar.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio And Giulia Achieve Highest Occupant Protection Scores

The latest independent safety assessments from vehicle safety authority, ANCAP, have revealed two top performers with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio equalling the highest scores recorded to date in the area of Adult Occupant Protection.

The Giulia mid-sized sedan recorded a score of 98 per cent, closely followed by the brand’s medium SUV offering, the Stelvio, scoring 97 per cent.1

Both Alfa Romeo models achieved a 5 star ANCAP safety rating with good performance across all four key areas of assessment. This rating applies to all 2.0 litre petrol and 2.2 litre diesel Giulia and Stelvio variants.

“These are impressive scores which reflect the effort the brand has put into designing vehicles to keep occupants safe,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

“With Adult Occupant Protection we look at how a vehicle performs structurally across a range of destructive crash tests, but also how well the restraint systems work to minimise injury. Low speed autonomous
emergency braking also forms part of this, with both Alfa Romeo models performing well.”

The Citroen C3, which was subject to the same broad range of tests, fell just shy of today’s safety expectation due to its inability to actively detect and prevent pedestrian contact combined with head injury risk.

“Unfortunately the C3 falls down in the Pedestrian Protection aspects of our assessment,” Mr Goodwin said.

“We may not all be drivers, but we are all pedestrians so it is important the design and specification of a vehicle considers the safety of those inside as well as outside the vehicle.”

The Citroen C3 scored 59 per cent for Pedestrian Protection, limiting its overall ANCAP safety rating to 4 stars.

These scores equal those achieved by the Volvo XC60 (98%) and Volvo XC90 (97%).

Nissan Confirms Withdrawal From The Supercars

Nissan Australia has confirmed that the 2018 Supercars Championship will be its last, exiting the series at season’s end.

Joining V8 Supercars with Kelly Racing at the start of 2013, the current contract with the team finishes at the end of 2018.

During its time in the series, Nissan has enjoyed a strong relationship with Kelly Racing and invested considerably to the motorsport programme both on and off the track.

“Nissan has decided to exit the Supercars Championship in order to concentrate on the interests and needs of our current and future customers,” said Stephen Lester, Nissan Australia’s managing director.

“We have obviously been talking to the Kellys for some time and making the announcement now suits both parties.

Maintaining its commitment to the team this year, Nissan Australia hopes to celebrate some strong results over the remainder of the 2018 Supercars Championship.

HAVAL Shines At Beijing Motor Show

HAVAL has unveiled a raft of new vehicles boasting engine technologies at Auto China 2018 in Beijing, designed to further increase the performance potential of China’s leading SUV brand.

The company showed off its new H4 and H6 SUVs, powered by the company’s upgraded 1.5-litre turbocharged four, boasting new Continuous Variable Valve Lift technology which has increased power from 110kW to 124, torque from 210Nm to 285 and slashed fuel economy by 8 per cent.

Designed to meet Euro VI emissions standards, the new 1.5-litre engine is matched to an all-new seven speed dual clutch transmission (7DCT) developed and produced by HAVAL. It represents the first time an independent Chinese manufacturer has developed its own DCT.

The updated H6 boasts new styling, with a new five-bar grille and LED headlamps. Inside, new seats with improved ergonomics have been added, as well a larger panoramic sunroof. The new H6 boasts the latest safety technology, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking. It also features a 360-degree camera and semi-automatic self-parking.

The all-new H4 is based on the HR-02 concept shown at Auto China 2016. Measuring 4420mm long by 1845mm wide and 1695mm high, the new H4 rides on a 2660mm wheelbase.

Inside, the new H4 features an all-new high-tech interior, including a floating 12-inch screen, LCD instrument panel and keyboard-style switchgear.

It comes equipped with a 360-degree vision system, lane departure warning, lane change assist, tyre pressure monitoring and front and rear parking sensors.

It also features the new HAVAL Connected telematics system, which can be used for smartphone mirroring, emergency rescue, security monitoring and remote vehicle diagnosis.

HAVAL used the show to unveil its first fully autonomous pure electric SUV.

Branded under the company’s luxury arm, the WEY X will offer L5 autonomous driving performance. This means the artificial intelligence system in the WEY X will mirror that of a highly trained human driver, in scenarios including dirt roads and bad weather.

WEY X follows in the footsteps of the pure electric XEV concept unveiled at the 2017 International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt.

The 2018 iteration blends seamlessly with existing vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) technology in a fully integrated transportation network. Combined with the latest autonomous driving expertise, the WEY X identifies and predicts potential risks in advance to minimise the potential for accidents.

Engineers have replaced traditional keys and buttons in the WEY X with a full biometric identification system. Each registered user can create their own individual set-up, including seats, music preferences and preferred navigation information.

The company’s newest brand – Ora – was officially launched at the show. Ora will be dedicated to the development and manufacture of pure electric vehicles.

Two concept vehicles were displayed at the show – the Ora R1 and Ora R2. Both electric minicars are built on a new platform dubbed ‘ME’, which incorporates maximum wheelbase in a small compact package.

The Ora R1 concept adopts an angular design, offset by round headlights and a blue/white colour combination.

The R2 concept car is larger, with a headlight integrated with the grille. The underside of the bumper is sleek and the A pillars are painted black to help form a “C” shape. Concealed door handles helps reduce wind resistance and adds to the overall ‘science-fiction’ look.

Both concept vehicles include intelligent communication features including mobile phone access, vehicle networking and owner identification.

Initially designed for domestic consumption only, the Ora range of production EVs are expected to go on sale later this year.

HAVAL also released details of its electric motor development, which to date has seen a 60 million dollar investment. The company has built a new research centre measuring almost 6000 square metres at its headquarters in Baoding, housing 19 electronic powertrain labs and six plug-in hybrid powertrain labs.

A new production line has been set up to build electronic motors and controlling units, with a total capacity of 300,000 units annually.

In addition, the company has employed 420 engineers to work on new energy vehicles, developing hybrid and EV control unit software. The first application of this work will be the new WEY P8 plug-in electric hybrid.

HAVAL also released details of its i-Pilot smart driving system, being developed collaboratively by engineers from the R&D centres in North America, China and India. It has already achieved an L3 autonomous driving level.

The system is currently undergoing road testing with an expected production start date of 2020, built initially for operation on main highways in China. It will be able to autonomously handle unique conditions such as roadworks and traffic jams.

i-Pilot 2.0 is being simultaneously developed, for unmanned driving in specific urban conditions. It can be used to support new functions including car sharing remote control via mobile telephones.

In 2023, i-Pilot 3.0 will be introduced to take advantage of increased development in V2X (vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure) technology.

The program will culminate in 2025 with i-Pilot 4.0 that will offer a full L5 autonomous driving experience. This is designed to ensure the HAVAL SUV can fully achieve autonomous driving under normal road conditions, with no driver intervention required.

HAVAL also released details of a new strategic cooperation memorandum with Baidu, the Chinese IT giant.

The two companies will carry out strategic cooperation into vehicle internet connectivity, autonomous driving, car sharing and big data to increase intelligent vehicle technology.

Ford Returns To Supercars With The Mustang

Ford has confirmed its return to motorsport by announcing its support for DJR Team Penske and Tickford Racing as they prepare to race Ford Mustangs in the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

“Ford Performance’s diverse line-up of vehicles reflects customer feedback that Australians are looking for advanced, efficient, performance models across all types of vehicles,” said Ford Australia President and CEO, Graeme Whickman. “Ford Performance is about technology, innovation and product performance and to showcase our confidence in our performance range, we are bringing Mustang and the Ranger Raptor to the Supercars series in 2019.”

“We are giving Mustang a proper birthday today, with the Australian unveiling of the new 2018 model and confirming its Australian track-debut with Supercars in 2019,” said Whickman.

The new Ford Mustang will make its Australian track debut at the first round of the Supercars Series in March 2019 at the Adelaide 500. Ford Australia and Ford Performance are working with DJR Team Penske and Tickford Racing in homologation of Mustang for competition next year, as the Supercars Series enables two-door coupes entry into the nation’s most popular series for the first time since its inception in 1997.

Ricciardo Wins F1 In Shanghai

Daniel Ricciardo won the Chinese Grand Prix after championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen collided during a thrilling race.

Ricciardo started from sixth place, taking advantage of an excellent pit stop strategy to chase his rivals, hauling in Lewis Hamilton, Valterri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel with amazing manoeuvres under brakes.

Valtteri Bottas aiming for victory after Ferrari made an error which allowed Bottas to move ahead of Vettel during their pit stop.

The race shifted when the safety car was deployed following a collision between the Toro Rosso pair of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly on the 31st lap.

Ricciardo and Verstappen diverted to the pits to strap on fresh tires which paid off for Ricciardo as he passed Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Vettel and finally Bottas for a big win.

Verstappen, who was ahead of Ricciardo, ruined his chance of victory, when he ran off road while attempting to make his way past Hamilton and then later struck Vettel.

The collision caused Vettel to finish in eighth place which allowed Hamilton to reach fourth after Verstappen received a 10-second penalty.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso overtook Vettel for seventh place on the penultimate lap.

“I don’t seem to win boring races,” Ricciardo said after claiming victory. “That was unexpected. It was hectic. I heard the safety car call a turn 14 and they said we are going to stop. It happened very quickly, but it was a decisive, winning move.”