Ford Launches ‘Pick-Up And Drop Off’ Service

Ford Australia is now offering a new service called Ford Pick Up and Drop Off, a complimentary vehicle pick-up and drop off solution for when customers’ cars need servicing or warranty repair during the COVID-19 emergency.

The initiative is designed to make life easier for Australian customers during this time so they can focus on other things, knowing their vehicle is serviced and ready when they need it.

“The Ford Pick Up and Drop Off service provides our service customers the reassurance they can get necessary vehicle work completed without leaving home, and the peace of mind that their vehicle is disinfected afterwards,” said Kay Hart, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand. “We’re pleased to be working with our dealers to find ways to ensure customers can continue to enjoy uninterrupted and safe services during this time.”

The service will initially be available at participating dealers until 30 June 2020 and incorporates three main elements:

  • Pick up and drop off for a customer’s vehicle when they book in a service or warranty repair
  • Disinfection of key touch points of the customer’s vehicle
  • Wide availability of cashless payment options

 “We’re pleased to be able to offer extra convenience and peace of mind to customers during this difficult time,” said John Cooper, Chairman of the Ford Australia National Dealer Council. “These new services build on the strict hygiene and sanitation processes we’ve built in across the network.”

The disinfection process will involve thoroughly sanitising the interior and exterior surfaces of the vehicle. Major touch points will include:

  • All exterior and interior door handles
  • Steering wheel (including buttons)
  • Centre console
  • Gear shifter/selector (dial or handle)
  • Park brake handle
  • Radio/HVAC areas
  • Touchscreen
  • Engine start/stop button
  • Driver’s door armrest and centre console
  • Window/seat/mirror controls
  • Rear view mirror
  • Seatbelt buckle and anchor
  • Rear boot lid tailgate button/handle
  • Bonnet and latch
  • Fuel door
  • Key fob

Ford Australia says the dealer disinfection process includes an alcohol-based cleaner that is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent, which quickly and thoroughly sanitises hard surfaces without damaging plastics, elastomers and rubbers. These measures are designed to help ensure that participating Ford dealership staff and customers are protected, as well as customers’ vehicle paint and interior trims.

ANCAP Appoints New Chair To Board Of Directors

ANCAP SAFETY, Australasia’s independent vehicle safety authority, has announced the appointment of Andy Cornish as its new Chair of its Board of Directors. Cornish has been an independent Director since 2017 and will now step into the role of Chair after Wendy Machin signalled her intention to retire from the board.

“Together with the ANCAP board, we thank Wendy for her demonstrable commitment to improving vehicle safety,” said Cornish. “During Wendy’s six years on the board, the organisation has strengthened with record high levels of market coverage, member engagement, consumer awareness and industry and community collaboration.

“Her chairmanship has seen the development and implementation of a strong strategic agenda highlighting the road safety challenges and subsequent areas of focus where vehicle safety can enhance the road safety outcome.”

Machin said that after her six-year tenure on the board, most as Chair, it was time to transition the board to new leadership.

“It has been a privilege to chair the board of ANCAP,” said Machin. “It is a small organisation with a big impact. Its work in testing and advocating for safer vehicles has had a direct positive impact on the Australian and New Zealand road toll.

“As a leader in the insurance and business sector, Andy brings a new perspective and a wealth of experience in risk and safety – essential considerations in the work that ANCAP does. I wish him and the ANCAP board well in their important work in the coming years and thank them for their support and commitment.”

Cornish says he looks forward to guiding the delivery of existing objectives, initiatives and projects, incorporating some new aspects, and to reinforce the importance of ANCAP’s independent consumer testing and advocacy voice.

“ANCAP plays a vital role in influencing and enhancing Australia and New Zealand’s automotive landscape, and while we are currently working through uncertain times for the industry and the economy, we are seeing significant advancements in vehicle technologies where we will see ANCAP’s role further develop to ensure we provide consumers with confidence in future mobility,” said Cornish.

PPG Provides Protective Windscreen For Indycar Series

PPG has announced that its ballistic, canopy-like windscreen, a key component of the NTT Indycar Series’ Aeroscreen, will make its official debut in the Firestone Grand Prix in Florida on 15 March.

The Aeroscreen was developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies and tested multiple times since its first on-track assessment in October 2019 and is Indycar’s latest safety innovation to reduce the risk of driver injury from flying debris or other objects striking the cockpit area.

“I don’t think any stone has been left unturned, but we will continue to fine-tune it,” said Jay Frye, Indycar president. “The Aeroscreen is an industry-changing, total driver safety solution.”

The Aeroscreen uses a PPG polycarbonate-laminated ballistic windscreen that is attached to a titanium frame, which is able to be entirely assembled and fitted on or removed from an NTT Indycar Series car in less than 15 minutes.

The windscreen includes an interior anti-reflective coating, an anti-fogging device and up to eight exterior tear-offs that can be removed during pit stops if the screen gets dirty. It weighs about 7.8 kg and can withstand an object at just under 1 kg striking it at over 350 km/h. The titanium frame weighs 12.6 kg and can withstand 15.4 tonnes of force.

“As an innovative industry leader in aerospace transparencies, PPG is proud to play an important role in ensuring cockpit protection for drivers throughout the NTT Indycar Series season,” said Brent Wright, PPG Global Director, Aerospace Transparencies.

2020 Geneva Motor Show Cancelled

The 2020 Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The 90th edition of GIMS was supposed to run from 5-15 March, but an injunction from the Switzerland Federal Council ruled that no events with over 1000 people can take place until 15 March. The decision falls three days before the opening of the exhibition to the media.

“We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors’ top priority,” said Maurice Turrettini, Chairman of the Foundation Board. “This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision. We would like to warmly thank all those involved in the organisation of the 2020 edition of GIMS.”

With only a few days to go before the event would have opened, organisers say the construction of the stands was almost complete and a week ago, during press conferences announcing the 2020 edition, there was nothing to suggest that cancellation was necessary. The situation changed with the appearance of the first confirmed coronavirus-caused diseases in Switzerland, and the cancellation was decided the same day.

The event will begin dismantling and financial consequences for all those involved will be assessed over the coming weeks. Tickets purchased for the event will be refunded and organisers will communicate as soon as possible via their website, which can be found here.

GM Shuts Down Holden In Australia, New Zealand

The Holden brand will be retired from sales in Australia and New Zealand, and local design and engineering operations will wind down by 2021, General Motors announced today. Maven and Holden Financial Services operations will also wind down in Australia, while GM will sell its Rayong vehicle manufacturing facility in Thailand to Great Wall Motors and withdraw the Chevrolet brand from the country, completing GM’s pull-out from all right-hand drive (RHD) markets around the world.

GM International Operations Senior Vice President, Julian Blissett, said GM had taken the difficult decision after implementing and considering numerous options to maintain and turn around Holden operations.

“Through its proud 160-year history, Holden has not only made cars, it has been a powerful driver of the industrialisation and advancement of Australia and New Zealand,” said Blissett. “Over recent years, as the industry underwent significant change globally and locally, we implemented a number of alternative strategies to try to sustain and improve the business, together with the local team.”

GM said it undertook a detailed analysis of the investment required for Holden to be competitive beyond the current generation of products, with factors impacting the business case for further investment including the “highly fragmented right-hand-drive markets”, the economics to support growing the brand, and delivering an appropriate return on investment.

“After comprehensive assessment, we regret that we could not prioritise the investment required for Holden to be successful for the long term in Australia and New Zealand, over all other considerations we have globally,” said Blissett. “This decision is based on global priorities and does not reflect the hard work, talent and professionalism of the Holden team.”

GM said it intends to focus its growth strategy in Australia and New Zealand on the specialty vehicles business and plans to immediately work with its partner on developing these plans.

GM Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director, Kristian Aquilina, said that given the significance of Holden through its history, it was critical the company worked with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful wind-down.

“Holden will always have a special place in the development of our countries,” said Aquilina. “As Australia and New Zealand grew, Holden was a part of the engine room fuelling that development. Today’s announcement will be felt deeply by the many people who love Holdens, drive Holdens and feel connected to our company which has been with us for 160 years and is almost ubiquitous in our lives.

“Unfortunately, all the hard work and talent of the Holden family, the support of our parent company GM and the passion of our loyal supporters have not been enough to overcome our challenges. We understand the impact of this decision on our people, our customers, our dealers and our partners, and will work closely with all stakeholders to deliver a dignified and respectful transition.”

Holden said it will honour all warranties and servicing offers made at time of sale. Holden will provide servicing and spare parts for at least 10 years through national aftersales networks in Australia and New Zealand. As required, Holden and its aftersales network will also continue to handle any recalls or safety-related issues if they arise, working with the appropriate governmental agencies.

Impacted Holden employees will be provided separation packages and employment transition support. The company will work with its dealer network on appropriate transition arrangements, including offering dealers the opportunity to continue as authorised service outlets to support Holden customers.

AkzoNobel Helps Style McLaren’s MCL35

McLaren Racing has unveiled its new 2020 Formula 1 MCL35 car ahead of the new season, with AkzoNobel supplying the coatings and paint through its Sikkens brand. AkzoNobel is the official paint and coatings partner of the McLaren Racing team, working together as partners since 2008.

The vehicle uses heat-shielding, with Intertherm 50 from the international product range applied to critical components surrounding the engine and exhaust to help handle temperatures reaching up to 540˚C. One coat of the product is 25 microns thick, which is around a third of the width of a human hair.

“We’re extremely proud of our long partnership with McLaren, which is built on collaboration, a shared passion for innovation and a commitment to performance,” said Patrick Bourguignon, Managing Director of AkzoNobel’s Automotive and Specialty Coatings business. “The car looks fantastic, both on top and underneath, and we’re especially looking forward to seeing it in action at Zandvoort when the F1 grand prix returns to the Netherlands this year.”

“Once again our new Formula 1 car, the MCL35, looks fantastic,” said Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. “We’ve pushed the technical boundaries this year with our livery, and we’re grateful that AkzoNobel, a trusted partner of ours for over 10 years, has collaborated with us. We thank them for their continued support.”

“Working with inspiring partners like McLaren enables us to broaden our expertise as we endeavour to deliver more cutting-edge innovation for our customers,” said Bourguignon. “We both have an interest in the ongoing pursuit of high performance, and this will remain a constant driving force as our collaboration continues to flourish.”

The first Grand Prix of the new season will take place 15 March in Melbourne, Australia.

Renault Appoints New CEO

Renault’s Board of Directors has appointed Luca de Meo as Chief Executive Officer of Renault SA and Chairman of Renault SAS from the beginning of July. Clotilde Delbos, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Renault SA, will continue in her role until that point.

“I am delighted with this new governance, which marks a decisive step for the Group and for the Alliance,” said Jean-Dominique Senard, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Luca de Meo is a great strategist and visionary of a rapidly changing automotive world. His expertise but also his passion for cars make him a real asset for the Group.

“I also thank Clotilde Delbos who provides interim management of the Group in an exceptional manner. She has demonstrated day after day her commitment and determination in the service of Renault. Together, with the support of a renewed and strengthened executive committee, they will form a high-quality, multi-talented team equal to Renault’s ambitions.”

Renault Readies For New CEO Ahead Of Crucial Alliance Meeting

Renault may name a new CEO ahead of an important meeting in Japan this week to display that the deeply troubled alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors is moving past the Carlos Ghosn scandal, according to Bloomberg and Reuters.

The Renault board has approved Luca de Meo to become its new CEO, according to Le Parisien, but the newspaper did not say where it got the information and a spokesman for Renault declined to comment on the matter.

De Meo rose through the ranks at Volkswagen, ran its Spanish brand, SEAT, and has been considered to be the front-runner for months. The executive, who recently stepped down as chairman of SEAT, is “probably in talks with Renault,” said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard has said an announcement could come within days, without confirming a name.

A year after Senard replaced Ghosn, who was arrested in 2018 in Tokyo on charges of financial misconduct, the Renault chairman is trying to draw a line under turmoil that nearly broke the alliance. Senard has said a series of measures will be unveiled at an alliance meeting at the end of the month to deepen operational ties between the manufacturers.

The board of the alliance will decide on new, common projects at a meeting this month, and the partnership is moving toward greater convergence of platforms and technology in the face of the massive investment needed to develop new cars, Senard said earlier this month.

Analysts say that in order to turn investor sentiment around, the firms need to achieve cost-saving joint engineering projects that have slowed since Ghosn’s departure.

“The alliance has taken a hit, but the alliance engineering team is still there,” said a source close to the alliance. “You cannot, from one day to the next, stop something that’s been embedded so deeply.”

Senard has said both sides are determined to make the partnership succeed, with the joint projects a major focus. One area of focus will be hybrid power systems, a field where the alliance has not effectively pooled its research and development efforts according to analysts. Each of the three members of the alliance has developed their own systems.

“That’s been among the sources of the friction,” said the source close to the alliance. “But now the three systems are there, we’ll need to use them in the most efficient way possible.”

Nissan will use the E-Tech hybrid system developed by Renault on the Juke SUV, Renault will use the e-Power series-hybrid system on its Kadjar model, specifically in Asia, while Mitsubishi is still using its own plug-in hybrid system on its Outlander, according to the same sources.

Renault owns 43 per cent of Nissan, with full voting rights, while Nissan holds a 15 per cent stake in Renault and lacks the ability to vote. Ghosn denied the Japanese charges and, at the end of last year, fled to Lebanon where he has mounted a media campaign to clear his name and criticise Renault and Nissan.

Hongqi Readies Push Into EVs

Hongqi is planning to introduce 21 new models over the next five years, 18 of which will be electric, in efforts to evolve with the times and work toward an electrified future, according to Bloomberg.

Hongqi is targeting a doubling in sales this year to 200,000 cars and wants annual deliveries to reach 1 million by 2030. State-owned China FAW Group developed the first Hongqi in 1958 and the sedans have since been used by political leaders from Chairman Mao to President Xi Jinping. FAW kicked off a rejuvenation effort for the brand after Xu Liuping took over as chairman in 2017.

“The global automobile industry is going through a great reshuffle and the fully open Chinese car market is becoming the most competitive one in the world,” Liuping told Bloomberg. “The Hongqi brand is becoming a benchmark for China’s high-end automobile industry and a role model for local brands.”

FAW hired Giles Taylor, who helped create vehicles such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII and the Cullinan SUV, in 2018 to oversee Hongqi’s design team. Hongqi is targeting the premium segment of China’s car market, with its current models priced at around US$21,000 to $66,000.

Jaguar Unveils Refreshed 2020 F-Type

Jaguar has revealed the updated F-Type convertible and coupe range which feature changes to the exterior and interior.

The front exterior sees the bumper receiving a revamp with a larger grille and side air vents with an integrated leaper motif. The LED headlights have daytime running lights with sweeping direction indicators and the bonnet has been updated into a vented clamshell design, giving the car a wider look.

The rear of the exterior sees a facelift in the form of a bumper with a new diffuser, license plate frame and array of exhaust tip layouts. Additionally, the taillights now have a rectangular dip over the older circular one.

The interior has a larger 12.3-inch touchscreen with a navigation system, integrated Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, over-the-air updates and integrated leaper motifs in the headrests, centre console, glovebox button and seatbelt guides.

The new F-Type range has three engines all paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with both a regular SportShift gear selector and steering wheel-mounted paddles available.

The base engine is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 221 kW and 400 Nm, standing below the second engine which is a 3.0-litre V6 with 280 kW and 460 Nm. The range header, the F-Type R, is a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 that features 423 kW of power and 700 Nm of torque.

The F-Type R also has all-wheel drive and 20-inch alloy wheels as standard, and has seen recalibration and improved responsiveness to the adaptive dampers, transmission, springs, anti-roll bars and suspension.

An exclusive F-Type First Edition coupe model is available for only one model year based on the R-Dynamic, and has five-spoke 20-inch wheels in Gloss Technical Grey with contrast Diamond-Turned finish, performance leather seats with 12-way electric adjustment, a black roof and Flame Red monogram stitching.