High ANCAP Safety Scores For Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Mazda 6 And Lexus ES300h

ANCAP, Australasia’s independent authority on vehicle safety, has commended the safety specification and safety performance of the newly released Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Mazda 6 and Lexus ES300h – all achieving 5 star ANCAP safety ratings.

Assessed against the latest safety standards now in play across both the Australasian and European markets, each of the vehicles achieved strong scores in all key safety areas.

“The new A-Class offers excellent all-round safety performance,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

“It has achieved the highest Vulnerable Road User Protection rating to date with a score of 92 per cent, and has equalled the highest Child Occupant Protection rating, scoring 91 per cent.”

“Side chest-protecting airbags also extend to the rear seats as a standard feature on Australasian models, where it is offered as an option to European consumers,” he said.

“The Mazda 6 performed well for its protection of adult and child occupants, however some concerns were noted for smaller occupants seated in the rear, where the pelvis of the dummy slipped beneath the lap section of the seatbelt in the full width test – known as submarining – and a penalty was applied.”

“The autonomous emergency braking capability of the Lexus ES300h was its standout feature with full points scored for its ability to detect and avoid pedestrians in all test scenarios at day and night. Strong performance was also recorded for its cyclist-detection capability,” Goodwin added.

A penalty was also applied to the Lexus for submarining of the rear occupant in the full width frontal test.

Five star ANCAP safety ratings apply to all variants of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (August 2018 onwards), Mazda 6 (June 2018 onwards) and the Lexus ES300h (September 2018 onwards).

Phase IV Falcon Breaks Ford Australian Muscle Car Record at Auction

A Ford Falcon GTHO Phase IV has broken the record for a Ford Australian muscle car, selling for A$2 million at auction over the weekend.

The extremely rare, one-of-only-three-in-the-world Ford Falcon GTHO Phase IV achieved A$2 million at Lloyds auction on Saturday night, smashing the previous record price for an Aussie Ford muscle car.

“This was a fantastic result for the classic car market which is growing from strength to strength. The anonymous Australian buyer is extremely excited about owning a piece of iconic Australian history,” said Brett Mudie, Chief Marketing Officer at Lloyds Auctions.

Legendary Bathurst winner Allan Moffat dropped the hammer in a ceremonial event with enthusiastic fans, alongside the auctioneer selling one of Australia’s rarest muscle cars to its new custodian.

“It didn’t surprise me that the car sold for this amount,” continued Mudie. “We were expecting it to smash the last record quite easily, with bidding already at A$1.5 million 3 days before the auction. The Phase IV’s limited number, immaculate condition, celebrity affiliation (with links to Fred Gibson and Allan Moffat) along with its chrome bumper all contributed to the car selling at this price and will underpin its value into the future.

“With the Phase IV and more strong bidding on Phase IIIs over the weekend, it really shows that the market is continuing to strengthen with an opportunity to own an enjoyable investment that seems to be rising in value at a faster rate than property.

“There is a clear trend if you look at the number of records broken over the last six months in particular. The people buying these cars are hard-working Australians looking for a reward but also looking for something to invest in. Cars in original condition, with chrome bumpers, celebrity affiliation or prominent history are the ones that are rising in value first as we have seen again at this auction over the weekend.”

In March this year an A9X Torana SLR 5000 sold for A$365,000, doubling the original record for this type of car. In June Australian cricketer Jeff Thomson’s old Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III was the first of its kind to break A$1 million in a public sale, followed by Peter Brock’s dual Bathurst winner which more recently sold for A$2.1 million.

Hyundai i30 Fastback N Revealed In Europe

Hyundai has revealed the new 2019 i30 Fastback N in Europe ahead of its official unveiling at the 2018 Paris Motor Show next month.

The five-door Fastback N is the second high-performance model from Hyundai’s N Performance division, following on from its sibling the i30 N hot-hatch, which arrived in Australia in March.

The new i30 Fastback N wraps the high-performance capability and driver appeal of the i30 N in a newly sporty five-door GT coupe shape.

The Hyundai i30 Fastback N incorporates many of the design signatures of its hatchback sibling. The i30 Fastback shape has been merged with the features of the i30 N five-door, such as the dynamic-looking N Grille, and N front and rear bumpers, both highlighted by a red character line. A blacked-out side sill further underscores the model’s sportiness.

The i30 Fastback N’s rear visual features a twin-muffler exhaust and a cohesive rear spoiler that flows neatly into the line of the lift back. A glossy black accent is inserted to highlight the spoiler and further develop the N performance theme.

The centrepiece in the new i30 Fastback N’s crisp, understated interior is the exclusive N steering wheel with characteristic red N stitching, which ties in with red stitching on the gear shifter and seats.

The i30 Fastback N’s high-performance focus does not bring cabin compromise. High practicality and everyday usability are ensured, with a generous with 450-litre cargo area, which expands to hold 1351 litres when the rear seatbacks are folded flat.

Mercedes-Benz Launches Its First EV – The EQC

Mercedes-Benz has launched its first electric car, the EQC, in Stockholm.

Touted first at the Paris Motor Show in 2016, the new EQ-prefixed models will go into full production in 2019 in Bremen, Germany.

The EQC features an all-new drive system with compact electric drivetrains at each axle. These give the EQC the driving characteristics of an all-wheel drive vehicle.

To reduce power consumption and increase dynamics, the electric drivetrains are configured differently; the front electric motor is optimised for best possible efficiency in the low to medium load range, while the rear one determines dynamics. Together, they generate an output of 300kW and a maximum torque of 765Nm. This allows the vehicle to get to 100km/h from a standing start in 5.1 seconds and reach a governed maximum speed of 180km/h.

The lithium-ion battery, which has an energy content of 80 kWh supplies the vehicle with power, with Mercedes-Benz claiming a range of more than 450km on a full charge under Europe’s old NEDC test cycle. Real-world range is expected to be slightly lower.

Mercedes-Benz says the EQC meets the highest requirements with respect to passive safety. In addition to the usual extensive programme of crash tests, the company says it applies further, particularly-stringent safety standards to the battery and all component parts carrying electrical current. The vehicle structure of the EQC has been adapted to suit the special requirements of the electrical components and battery and is “configured to achieve the usual high safety level”.

Mechanical protection of the battery begins with the installation position of the high-voltage battery beneath the vehicle floor, where it is surrounded by a stable frame that can absorb impact energy. Deformation elements are installed between the frame and the battery, and these are able to absorb additional forces in the event of a severe side impact. A battery guard in the front area is able to prevent the energy storage unit from being pierced by foreign objects. Placement of the heavy battery at the bottom of the car improves the vehicle’s centre of gravity, ensuring a stable and dynamic ride.

Electrical protection of the high-voltage system consists of a multi-stage safety concept that deploys in the event of an accident. The high-voltage system automatically shuts down, reversibly or irreversibly, according to the severity of the accident. There are also shutdown points where emergency teams can deactivate the high-voltage system manually.

JLR’s Virtual Eyes Look At Trust In Self-Driving Cars

Jaguar Land Rover has fitted ‘virtual eyes’ to intelligent pods to understand how humans will trust self-driving vehicles, as research studies suggest that as many as 63 per cent of pedestrians worry about how safe it will be to cross the road in the future.

The friendly-faced ‘eye pods’ have a vital job: helping work out how much information future self-driving cars should share with users or pedestrians to ensure that people trust the technology.

As part of the engineering project, Jaguar Land Rover has enlisted the help of a team of cognitive psychologists to better understand how vehicle behaviour affects human confidence in new technology. The trust trials form part of Jaguar Land Rover’s government-supported UK Autodrive project.

The intelligent pods, run autonomously on a fabricated street scene in Coventry, while the behaviour of pedestrians is analysed as they wait to cross the road. The ‘eyes’ have been devised by a team of advanced engineers, working in Jaguar Land Rover’s Future Mobility division. The pods seek out the pedestrian – appearing to ‘look’ directly at them – signalling to road users that it has identified them, and intends to take avoiding action.

Engineers record trust levels in the person before and after the pod makes ‘eye contact’ to find out whether it generates sufficient confidence that it would stop for them. Previous studies suggest as many as 63 per cent of pedestrians and cyclists say they’d feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle.

Safety remains the number one priority as Jaguar Land Rover invests in self-driving technology, becoming automotive leaders in autonomous, connected, electric and shared mobility. The trial is aligned with the brand’s long-term strategic goals: to make cars safer, free up people’s valuable time and improve mobility for everyone.

Pete Bennett, Future Mobility Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “It’s second-nature to glance at the driver of the approaching vehicle before stepping into the road. Understanding how this translates in tomorrow’s more automated world is important.

“We want to know if it is beneficial to provide humans with information about a vehicle’s intentions or whether simply letting a pedestrian know it has been recognised is enough to improve confidence.”

The trials are part of a wider study exploring how future connected and autonomous vehicles can replicate human behaviour and reactions when driving. As part of the study, more than 500 test subjects have been studied interacting with the self-driving pods, designed by UK Autodrive partner Aurrigo.

Ford Creates Autonomous Vehicles Company

Ford Motor Company has announced the creation of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, a new organisation charged with accelerating its autonomous vehicles (AV) business to capitalise on market opportunities.

The new company will include Ford’s self-driving systems integration, AV research and advanced engineering, AV transportation-as-a-service network development, user experience, business strategy and business development teams. The new limited liability company, which is structured to take on third party investment, will be primarily based at Ford’s Corktown campus in Detroit and will hold Ford’s ownership stake in Argo AI, the company’s Pittsburgh-based partner for self-driving system development. Ford expects to invest US$4 billion in its AV efforts through 2023, including its US$1 billion investment in Argo AI.

Sherif Marakby, currently Ford Vice President Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification, will be appointed CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, reporting to a board of directors chaired by Marcy Klevorn, Ford’s Executive Vice President and President, Mobility. Ford says the closer alignment of the self-driving platform and mobility solutions teams will allow faster development of businesses that can thrive in the pre- and post-autonomous vehicle worlds.

“Ford has made tremendous progress across the self-driving value chain – from technology development to business model innovation to user experience,” said Jim Hackett, President and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.”

With Marakby’s move, Ted Cannis, Global Director Electrification, will lead Ford’s Team Edison, the team responsible for developing and bringing to market its next-generation of electric vehicles. Team Edison will continue to report to Jim Farley, Executive Vice President and President Global Markets.

Ford’s electric vehicle strategy includes rethinking the ownership experience, including making charging an effortless experience at home and on the road, as well as offering full-vehicle over-the-air software updates to enhance capabilities and features.

In addition, Ford is reorganising its Global Operations division led by Executive Vice President Joe Hinrichs to include Information Technology as well as the company’s global order-to-delivery system, integrating the teams, technologies and processes from both across Ford’s production system. As a result, Jeff Lemmer, Vice President and CIO, will report to Hinrichs.

The realignment will help the company accelerate the integration and application of technology across its industrial system to further streamline manufacturing, speed vehicle delivery times, reduce inventories and improve capital efficiency.

All the changes are effective 1 August.

Holden’s First GMC Vehicle On The Horizon

Holden will release its first GMC-based product, the Acadia premium seven-seat SUV, later this year.

While the Acadia is unashamedly American in design, Holden says its performance and driving characteristics will feel familiar to Australians, thanks to local engineering input. Using lessons learned from recent Commodore and Colorado programs, Holden engineers have focused on ensuring Acadia has direct steering and a composed ride.

Holden is also putting a fleet of 14 vehicles through real-world testing, contributing to a total of more than 1.5 million test kilometres.

Dave Buttner Appointed Chairman And MD Of GM Holden

Automotive industry veteran Dave Buttner will become Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden, with Mark Bernhard to retire from Holden and the wider GM group at the end of July, the company announced today.

The leadership transition comes at an important time for the Holden business, as it seeks to leverage its “strongest ever vehicle portfolio to win more customers, grow sales and strengthen GM Holden for the future,” said GM Executive Vice President and President of GM International Barry Engle.

“Dave’s proven track record and understanding of Holden’s markets – and the company’s potential in those markets – makes him the right leader for this next phase in the evolution of the business,” said Engle.

“GM’s most senior leadership strongly believe that we have a rare jewel in Holden, an iconic Australian brand that understands the needs of Australian and New Zealand drivers.

“Dave’s mandate is to work closely with our dealer network to win more customers for life, grow Holden’s market share and ensure our business is strong and profitable for the long term.

“Holden has all the building blocks for future success, including the best and most comprehensive vehicle portfolio in Holden’s history; the introduction of Maven, OnStar and GM Financial; and the ongoing global design and engineering work that continues in Australia.

“Dave is an outstanding leader with a peerless record of success in Australia and New Zealand. Holden will have a strong future under Dave’s leadership.”

“As Mark hands over the reins of Holden, I want to recognise all of his contributions over his career at GM. I appreciate his passion and commitment to Holden during his tenure as Chairman and Managing Director and throughout his career,” said Engle.

Bernhard said the opportunity to lead the company where he began his career in 1986 has been a privilege.

“Holden is where it all started for me. It has been an honour to lead Holden as we laid the foundation for a new future of this iconic Australian company,” said Bernhard.

“I am grateful to GM and the terrific people I have worked with through a career that spanned Australia, Europe, the US, Singapore and China – exceeding my wildest dreams when I joined the company as a fresh-faced eager graduate.

“Holden was born here and has a special place in our hearts. I wish Dave and his team every success for the future.”

Buttner has had an extensive 40-year career in the automotive industry, having most recently been President of Toyota Motor Corporation in Australia from May 2014 to December 2017. In his time at Toyota, Dave performed senior roles in Manufacturing, Sales and Marketing, Corporate Affairs and Product Planning and Development. Throughout these roles, Dave maintained a focus on customers and dealers. Buttner also led Toyota on its transition from a manufacturer and distributor to an importer and national sales company.

He will begin as Chairman and Managing Director of GM Holden on 1 August 2018.

“I am honoured and energised by this incredible opportunity to lead Holden, a company which is part of the fabric of our country,” said Buttner.

“I look forward to working with our people, our dealers and our partners to grow our business and get more and more Australian and New Zealand drivers behind the wheel of more and more Holdens.”

Audi Australia Initiates Takata Recall

Audi Australia has begun recalling vehicles with frontal Takata airbag inflators. The mandatory safety recall, which was issued by the Australian government earlier this year, requires that all affected Takata frontal airbags in Australia be replaced by 31 December 2020.

“Our customers are our first priority and, as a result of the Australian government’s mandatory recall of certain vehicles with frontal Takata airbag inflators, we will be conducting a staged recall of the affected vehicles between now and the end of 2020. We will contact owners to let them know when they should visit a dealer to have their Takata airbag inflator replaced, free of charge,” said Audi spokesperson Shaun Cleary.

The first group of Audi vehicles under active recall includes Audi Q5 (8R), model years 2009-2012, installed with driver side Takata airbag inflators. By the end of July 2018, the following additional models will be under active recall:

  • Audi A5 Sportback (8T), model years 2009-2012, installed with driver side Takata airbag inflators;
  • Audi A5 Cabriolet (8F), model years 2010-2011, installed with driver side Takata airbag inflators;
  • Audi A3 (8P), model years 2006-2013, installed with driver side Takata airbag inflators.

The company expects to have initiated a recall of all Audi vehicles with affected Takata airbags by the end of 2018. Owners of these vehicles will be contacted directly on an individual basis.

Audi has prepared a VIN check tool on its website (see address below) to determine whether a vehicle is affected by the mandatory safety recall and, if so, the specific date from which it will be recalled. The website also contains Audi’s approved Recall Initiation Schedule, which outlines more generally when each make, model and model year of affected Audi vehicles is scheduled to be recalled.

Audi says none of its vehicles imported into Australia are equipped with ‘alpha’ airbags, which have been identified as posing the highest safety risk of all the recalled Takata airbags and must be recalled by manufacturers of vehicles containing those airbags immediately.

According to Audi, the Australian government says that as the faulty ‘non-alpha’ Takata airbags fitted to the recalled vehicles ages and/or is exposed to high temperatures and humidity, the PSAN propellant is exposed to moisture and degrades. If a vehicle is involved in a collision, the airbag can go off with too much explosive force, rupturing the airbag inflator housing. This causes sharp metal fragments to shoot out, resulting in death or serious injury to vehicle occupants.

Audi says the Australian government warns a defective Takata airbag may rupture between six and 25 years after it is installed in a vehicle. In areas of high heat and humidity, the risk of rupture may arise between six and nine years.

For more information, visit Audi’s Takata recall webpage at www.audi.com.au/au/web/en/owners/Takata-Airbag-Safety-Recall.html, or contact Audi’s toll-free Audi Takata Information Line on 1800 856 770 during business hours.

UPDATED – Kia To Respray More Than 70 Sunset Yellow Stingers

UPDATE: This story has been updated with additional details about the response Kia Australia received from its customers, including take-up of the respray offer.


Kia Australia will repaint up to 72 Sunset Yellow Stingers after a fault was discovered with the colour supplied by its paint provider. The paint is believed to contain an oil that may cause it to crack from stone chips and other types of contact.

According to Kevin Hepworth, General Manager – Media & Corporate Communications, the issue is limited to the Sunset Yellow colour.

“From what we’ve been told from headquarters, all the other colours have been tested and Sunset Yellow is the only one that is affected. The colour will come back onto the palette, late October I believe, once they have adjusted it.”

Hepworth told BodyShop News that Kia Australia has offered each of the 72 vehicle owners a complete respray, which will be covered by a lifetime warranty, though he declined to say who will perform the work.

Hepworth said that upon initial contact, about 75 per cent of Sunset Yellow Stinger owners had requested resprays, however final decisions have not yet been made.

“The initial phone contact is followed up with a letter and after that, [the owners] come to us in writing saying what they want to do,” he explained. “Nobody has made a final decision as to what they want to do. There isn’t a requirement that once we contact you that you have to make your mind up straight away.”

Kia Australia has earnt praise on social media for the way it has handled the problem, with many people claiming other manufacturers could learn from the company’s example.