Mercedes-Benz X-Class Awarded Five Stars For Safety

With five stars, the new X-Class has been awarded the highest possible score in the independent safety test “Euro NCAP Test”. The Mercedes-Benz ute impressed in the categories of occupant safety, child safety, pedestrian protection and assistance systems.

The X-Class owes this result above all to its especially sturdy body with high-strength passenger cell and a structure with front and rear ends capable of absorbing energy through selective deformation as well as with an exceptionally large number of safety systems for the ute segment. The X-Class comes as standard with, for example, seven airbags and the i-Size attachment system for two child seats. The other safety highlights include Active Brake Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. Added to these are the trailer stability program, tyre pressure monitoring, front and rear disc brakes and cruise control. Also as standard, the X-Class Power comes with a 360-degree camera and the Pure and Progressive are equipped with a reversing camera.

Neuville Survives Chaos To Win World Rally Australia Crown

Thierry Neuville has survived chaotic last-minute conditions to record his first Kennards Hire Rally Australia victory. Neuville had an early scare as torrential rain made the morning stages almost undriveable but he was able to pull clear when it counted to supply Hyundai with a perfect end to the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship season.

Jari-Matti Latvala’s pursuit of Neuville from second place ended dramatically when his Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris crashed into trees after sliding wide on a fast left-hand corner on the 20th and final stage in the Wedding Bells State forest. The uninjured but distraught Finn retired on the spot, elevating M-Sport driver Ott Tanak to second place in a Ford Fiesta and a surprised New Zealander Hayden Paddon to third in another Hyundai.

Five-times World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport) won the points-paying Power Stage that closed the rally and the season and finished fourth after a weekend beset with problems.

The 29-year-old Neuville recorded his fourth victory of the season, double Ogier’s score in achieving his fifth straight drivers’ world championship last month. He also hoisted his 54th special stage win of the 2017 season in the first run through Wedding Bells this morning, astonishingly also more than double Ogier‘s score.

Neuville had started the day more than 20sec ahead of Latvala but saw this halved after rain – described by Citroen driver Kris Meeke as “horrendous” – dumped on the second test, Bucca. The conditions affected other parts of the course and organisers cancelled the penultimate stage, Pilbara Reverse, leaving Latvala with too little time and distance to continue his charge.

In a post-event press conference, Neuville said the season’s achievements made he and the Hyundai Motorsport team feel like World Champions, even though they missed the title because of early mistakes and problems.

“This one is a special one and really goes to the whole team of Hyundai Motorsport,” he said, admitting Latvala had been close enough today to challenge for the win. “We are not World Champions, but we drove like World Champions. Every morning when you see Jari-Matti doing his push-ups you know that he’s going for a big attack.

“He did it this morning and he will not give up and try until the very end. There was a real opportunity for him to get the first place, so we had to resist in a clever way but not taking too much risk in the tricky conditions.”

While Latvala’s run finished bitterly, Tanak completed his M-Sport tenure with a solid performance before switching to the Tommi Makinen-run Toyota outfit in 2018.

“It’s important to finish the season like this. It was quite difficult to think about this (finishing second) on Friday as I was not comfortable in the car,” Tanak said. Paddon managed to take some positives away from his most difficult season in rallying. “On speed alone we didn’t deserve a podium this weekend,” the New Zealander said.

“When the rain came we knew it would be very, very tricky. We had a bit of an idea of what to expect and took it nice and easy to look after our position. So it was a nice way to finish what was a pretty trying year.”

Rally Great Britain winner Elfyn Evans was fifth ahead of Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi. Kris Meeke, who re-entered under Rally 2 rules after suffering a broken suspension yesterday, was seventh.

Australians Richie Dalton (Skoda), Nathan Quinn (Mitsubishi) and Dean Herridge (Subaru) completed the top 10 in a field of 78 starters. Quinn won the CAMS Australian Rally Championship, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 called “Shirley”, so named he says because the car has had more hits in its 10-year competition career than the famous singer Shirley Bassey.

Ogier Bags Fifth World Rally Crown, Evans’ First Win In Wales Rally GB

Frenchman Sébastien Ogier will contest Kennards Hire Rally Australia next month as the 2017 World Rally Champion after clinching his fifth consecutive title on the penultimate round in Wales on Sunday October 29. Dayinsure Wales Rally GB was won by Ogier’s M-Sport teammate Elfyn Evans, with Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville 37.3 seconds behind.

A further 7.9 sec back, Ogier took third place and enough points to put his championship beyond challenge before the series finale on the NSW Coffs Coast on 16-19 November. With a third M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Ott Tänak finishing sixth, the British privateer team capped an historic weekend by taking the WRC manufacturers’ championship for the first time in 10 years.

Evans not only took his first WRC victory – and on Welsh home soil – but dominated the four-day rally. He set fastest times on nine of the 21 stages and, despite the challenges of rain, fog and muddy roads, held on to the overall lead from the first speed test on Friday 27 October. He became the seventh different winner and the third first-time winner, alongside Tänak and Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi, in what has been the most competitive WRC season in decades. Co-driven by Daniel Barritt, Evans was the first British driver to win the home round since 2000.

Rally Australia Chairman Ben Rainsford congratulated the winners and said the result guaranteed fans next month would see the world’s best drivers in action.

“Malcolm Wilson and the M-Sport team pulled off an extraordinary achievement at Wales Rally GB. The manufacturers’ championship, drivers’ championship, co-drivers’ championship (for Ogier’s co-driver Julien Ingrassia) and a home-round win in one weekend is amazing,” Rainsford said. “It will be a thrill to see the new world champions in action at Rally Australia, but there will also be unfinished business on the Coffs Coast. There’s still a battle for second in the WRC to be settled between Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak and of course we’ll host the Australian Rally Championship decider between Molly Taylor and Nathan Quinn.

“I predict the gloves will now be off at Rally Australia. With the new faster louder and wilder-looking WRC cars making their first appearance Down Under, we’re going to host a cracking climax to the 2017 season.”

Ogier was emotional after claiming a hard-fought championship, during which he has won only two of the 12 rounds so far but finished on the podium a further seven times.

“I don’t know what to say. It’s just incredible. Thank you so much to the whole M-Sport team and Malcolm. It was a hard job. We work all very hard. It’s amazing to be World Champion with this team,” he said through tears. “I had very, very strong emotions on the finish line. I’m very happy for Elfyn. It’s amazing for M-Sport – victory, two guys on the podium, the manufacturers’ championship, drivers’ world championship – everything!”

Evans added: “It’s been a good rally. I’m incredibly grateful to everybody that has stood by me through all these years – to get to this point has taken a lot. To all the people who have supported me and backed me – this is for you. And this result only makes us even hungrier for more.”

WRC teams will now have barely a week to return to their bases and prepare their cars before they are air-freighted to Australia. Organisers are planning a big welcome for the international and Australian teams entered, with a free Rally Show and Ceremonial Start expected to attract thousands of fans to the closed main street of Coffs Harbour on Thursday 16 November. The competitors’ service park at C.ex International Stadium will be a hub of rally activity and free entertainment, including driver appearances, music concerts, fireworks, student visits, souvenir sales and a $5000 cash giveaway, throughout the weekend.

Tickets are on sale at www.ticketek.com.au, with a 2-for-1 offer on a $99 all-stages passes available until Tuesday October 31.

RESULTS (provisional)

Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (round 12 of 13):
1) Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2h57m00.6s
2) Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +37.3
3) Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrasia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +45.2
4) Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +49.8
5) Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +50.3
6) Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:02.3
7) Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) 1:20.5
8) Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe) +2:16.3
9) Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:46.5
10) Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (Hyundai i0 Coupe WRC) +3:50.5

McLaughlin And Premat Win Gold Coast 600

DJR Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat pulled off a remarkable Supercars comeback win on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

A strong opening stint from Premat lifted the Shell Ford into contention from 13th on the grid, before McLaughlin leapfrogged all three Commodores with an early second stop.

McLaughlin eventually took the flag 1.5 seconds clear of Jamie Whincup, who secured the championship lead for the first time in 2017 after Fabian Coulthard finished ninth.

Penrite Erebus Conquers Mount Panorama With Bathurst 1000 Win

The Penrite Erebus Motorsport Holden VF Commodore of David Reynolds and Luke Youlden has claimed a sensational victory in the 2017 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama.

Reynolds and Youlden kept out of trouble at a wet and wild 2017 edition of the great race for their and the Erebus team’s maiden win in the Bathurst 1000, with a special “Australian Made and Owned” themed Penrite livery for the occasion.

The race was hit by a heavy downpour from the start with the famed 6.2-kilometre Mount Panorama Circuit only drying during the latter stages. However, a late rain shower threw a curveball into the mix, as several of the leading contenders fell by the wayside.

Reynolds, though, held his nerve through late-race safety cars and challengers from behind for a memorable victory.

“I have got nothing left to give, I am absolutely spent,” said Reynolds. “My crew was faultless, it was just a perfect day, so good. I was struggling to hold in the tears during the last couple of laps but I thought I had it under control.”

It was also Youlden’s first win from a career high of 18 Bathurst 1000 starts, despite the fact the driver-trainer doesn’t race in any other categories throughout the rest of the year.

“For a bloke who races once a year he’s not bad!” Reynolds said of Youlden.

“We have had this same core team for a while now, I love this sport and I love my job in working with them. It just makes it so enjoyable.

“I have been wanting to pay them back but we haven’t had a lot of luck, so this is now the icing on the cake.”

This resounding victory also coincides with Penrite being the official lubricant of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 for the first time.

J.D. Power Study Confirms Hyundai Buyers Are Happiest

Hyundai has claimed top spot in the latest J.D. Power Australia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study just one year after narrowly missing out on the top spot for the same award.

The study saw Hyundai as a clear leader with an impressive 827 points, three points clear of its nearest rival and well ahead of the Mass Market class average. Based on independent and unbiased responses from 2,779 Australian new vehicle owners who bought their cars between June 2016 and June 2017, the study was run from January through to June this year.

Hyundai’s 827 point Sales Satisfaction score – from a possible 1,000 points – was well above the Australian industry average. Of the 11 brands studied, five fell below the average.

“At Hyundai we are delighted with winning the J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index this year after tying for a close second place last year. It is testament not only to our product but also to the Hyundai dealer staff behind this result,” Hyundai Motor Company Australia’s Chief Operating Officer, Scott Grant, said.

“We know we have an extremely good model range that is continually being improved upon and we know the quality of our vehicles is outstanding. Now, more than ever, our customers are showing their great satisfaction with our national dealer network and the overall sales experience.

“Obviously, we’re thrilled with J.D. Power Australia’s findings from this all-important study. If our customers are happy with the dealership experience it shows our dealers are doing a terrific job.”

Grant’s words were echoed by Loi Truong, J.D. Power’s Senior Country Manager.

“Understanding changing customer expectations, keeping customers updated pre- and post-sale (and) delivering consistent customer experiences across the network are the keys to ensuring an elevated sales experience,” he said. Hyundai’s dealers have been investing heavily in their facilities, both in servicing and in-showroom technology, such as the Hyundai hand-over tablet and app which is used at vehicle delivery.

In the J.D. Power 2017 Australian Sales Satisfaction Index Study, buyers were asked to look at six individual factors in the purchase process and rate their dealership’s performance. Those factors covered the salesperson’s helpfulness, the sales initiation process, the deal, the time taken for vehicle delivery, the delivery process and the dealership itself.

Standout survey results for Hyundai showed buyers were not only positive with the deal they received but also with the quality of the dealer outlet and the delivery timing of their new vehicle. Hyundai’s outstanding performance in the study also showed the majority of buyers surveyed were so satisfied with the complete purchase experience they would readily recommend the dealership to family and friends.

The 2017 J.D. Power Australia Sales Satisfaction Index Study also found that of the “highly satisfied” buyer group, 84 per cent said they would definitely stay loyal to their chosen brand and 90 per cent would recommend that brand to others.

By contrast, just 33 per cent of “highly dissatisfied” buyers would buy the brand again and recommend it to others.

China Is Considering Banning New Fossil Fuel Powered Cars

With the global vehicle industry heading towards intelligent and electric vehicles, work has begun on a timetable to ban the manufacture and sale of traditional energy cars, according to Guobin Xin, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology. Xin told a forum in Tianjin that vehicle companies should have a thorough understanding of the situation and readjust their strategies, adding that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will work out the timetable.

China’s vehicle industry contributed at least one tenth of total retail sales of consumer goods. The country produced and sold more than 28 million vehicles in 2016, making it the world’s largest vehicle producer and manufacturer for the eighth year running. China is also the largest producer and market for new energy vehicles, with more than 500,000 of them built and sold last year. There are more than one million new energy vehicles on the road in China, or half of the world’s total.

To encourage development of new energy vehicles, subsidies of as much as half of the original price are available, but in the long term, such subsidies may lead to blind expansion by manufacturers, said Qiuling Song from the Ministry of Finance at the forum. Subsidies will gradually be reduced and a new energy credit policy introduced, according to Song.

On 13 June, the MIIT released a policy document for public opinion on fuel consumption control and new energy vehicle credits. It requires car companies to meet a new energy credit ratio of eight per cent in 2018, 10 per cent in 2019, and 12 per cent in 2020, to ease pressure on energy and environment. Xin confirmed that the policy would be put into effect in the near future.

According to Xin, the period of time up to 2025 will be critical for the vehicle industry. Energy-saving and emission reduction requirements are increasing, the development of new energy vehicles is becoming more technically demanding and intelligent vehicles are expected to have a profound effect on the industry.

Nissan Announces New Managing Director For Australia

Nissan has announced the appointment of Stephen Lester as Managing Director of Nissan in Australia. Lester replaces outgoing MD and CEO Richard Emery, who is leaving the company.

Lester joins Nissan’s Australian operation after having successfully led INFINITI in Canada as Managing Director for the previous two years. His new role is effective from Monday 4 September 2017 and he will report to Vincent Wijnen, Head of Sales and Marketing for Nissan in the Asia and Oceania Region.

“Stephen Lester’s arrival at Nissan Australia coincides with our plans for the brand’s next direction and he brings to our Australian team strong experience, knowledge and business-building skills,” said Yutaka Sanada, Regional Senior Vice President and Head of Nissan in the Asia and Oceania region. “He takes the reins from Richard Emery, who has successfully guided our Australian operation with steady leadership and business improvements since 2014.”

 

LDV Confirms Launch Dates For New T60 Ute And D90 SUV For Australia

LDV has confirmed that it’s all new Ute, the LDV T60, will enter the Australian market in 1 October, followed six weeks later by the D90 SUV on 15 November, transforming LDV’s position in Australia from an all-van brand to one with benchmark models in the key Ute and SUV market sectors.

Both launches will be preceded by a major event in Sydney on 25 September which will be attended by senior management not just from LDV, but also its parent company, SAIC, China’s number one vehicle manufacturer. They will be joined by a large contingent of Chinese business and motoring media along with VIP guests. LDV has deliberately chosen Sydney as the venue to provide global visibility for the D90 and T60.

First seen at last year’s Guangzhou International Motor Show in China, the LDV T60 is an all-new vehicle which will expand to offer Australian buyers a range of single and double cab, two and four-wheel drive, manual and automatic Utes with two trim and equipment levels.

The LDV D90 made its debut in Australia, with a sneak preview of the full-size SUV on the south coast of New South Wales and in Sydney, prior to its official unveiling at the Shanghai International Motor Show earlier this year. The D90 was in Australia for dynamic testing and calibration of its advanced chassis electronics prior to its launch.

The T60 and D90 will not only launch the Chinese commercial vehicle specialist manufacturer into new market sectors, they will also take LDV into new parts of Australia.

“Since its launch in Australia LDV has focused on its van and people mover ranges with the V80 and G10 vehicles,” says Dinesh Chinnappa, General Manager of LDV Australia. “Sales of this type of vehicle are primarily in metro areas, so that is where we have concentrated our dealers and our business. But the T60 and the D90 will have a much broader appeal across the whole country. The Ute and SUV markets are much bigger than the van market and they are booming. In preparation for the arrival of the T60 and D90 we are opening new dealers in country areas as well as enlarging our urban representation. There is little doubt that from day one, the T60 will be LDV’s best-selling model in Australia, with the D90 close behind it, and this will be matched by a much higher visibility for LDV across the country.”

“In short, these two new models will transform LDV’s position in the market, awareness of the brand across the country and, of course, the number of vehicles we will sell,” says Chinnappa.

The LDV T60 launch model line-up will expand following the launch to include a range of turbo diesel powered 4WD dual cabs with both manual and automatic transmissions, as well as 2WD and 4WD cab chassis with manual transmissions. There will be two trim and equipment levels to ensure coverage of the market from working business vehicles to recreational and family transport.

“This model line-up covers the most significant part of the market and these versions will be joined by additional variants as required to meet changing market demands,” says Dinesh Chinnappa. 

At 5.3 metres long and 1.9 metres wide and with a 110 kW 2.8 litre Turbo Diesel engine, the LDV T60 will sit right in the middle of the key Ute market sector in terms of size and performance, but when it comes to equipment, features and pricing, the T60 will continue the LDV market position of value for money pricing and above average equipment, trim and features.

Full details of the Australian D90 range will be made closer to its November 15 launch.

“It is too early to provide specific price points for the new LDV T60 and LDV D90 ranges,” explains Dinesh Chinnappa. “But we are determined that they will build upon the value for money proposition established by the LDV van range. The T60 will provide Australia Ute buyers with a highly competitive new choice, whether they are looking for a working Ute or a recreational family vehicle. The seven seat D90 is the ideal size for the Australian SUV market. An appealing specification and the price that the market has come to expect of LDV will ensure it is a highly attractive proposition for SUV buyers.”

The LDV range opens with the LDV G10 one tonne van, which is now available with a new Turbo Diesel engine with a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes from a recommended retail price of $28,990 driveaway for ABN holders. The new powertrain compliments the petrol variants, which start from a recommended retail price of $25,990 driveaway and include a 165 kW turbocharged power unit for the automatic petrol powered G10 van.

No lesser value proposition, the G10 is also available as an accomplished people mover, with a choice of seven and nine seats, both powered by the 165 kW petrol engine with a six speed ZF gearbox and priced from a recommended retail price of $29,990 driveaway.

The LDV V80 van range comes with a choice of two wheelbases and three roof heights, giving it a range of cargo volumes from 6.4 to 11.6 cubic metres and payloads from 1.2 to 1.4 tonnes. It is powered by a 2.5 litre Turbo Diesel engine with a choice of manual or self-shifting gearboxes. Prices start for the V80 vans are from a recommended retail price of $30,490 driveaway for ABN holders.

All LDV vehicles come with a three year/100,000 km warranty with 24 hour roadside assistance. They are supported by a growing nationwide dealer network, backed by Australasia’s largest locally owned independent vehicle distributor, the Ateco Group.

The Ateco Parts Distribution Centre in Sydney employs the latest automated parts distribution technology to deliver parts across its Australia-wide dealer network. The LDV Technical Training Team equips all dealer technicians with the knowledge and skills to service and maintain all LDV models, using the both the Ateco Training Centre in Sydney and with training courses in LDV dealerships across Australia.

LDV is a division of SAIC, the 46th largest company in the world and, with more than seven million vehicles set to be produced in 2017, the largest vehicle manufacturer in China, the world’s largest car market.

 

Mazda Will Launch Compression Ignition Petrol Engine In 2019

Japanese car manufacturer Mazda has announced an expansion of its environmental initiatives by setting new efficiency, safety, and sustainability goals in the lead up to 2030. The company’s most significant development in this plan is a new generation of engines, dubbed Skyactiv-X, which will feature what Mazda claims is the first commercial petrol engine to use compression ignition technology.

Known officially as Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), the technology is something car manufacturers have been working on for decades. However, trouble with reliability and narrow powerbands have held up mass-scale implementation.

An HCCI engine pressurises an air/fuel mixture until the heat from combustion causes it to detonate. This is the same theory employed by a diesel engine, which always relies on compression ignition. However, petrol-based compression ignition is not as easy to accomplish, with a number of reliability problems to solve. These include the risk of misfire at both high and low revolutions – the engine cannot keep up at high revs, while at low revs, lower temperatures from less combustion per second can cause misfiring. On the other hand, the higher temperature and pressure in general of compression ignition can actually cause cooling challenges, and finally, the engines can be particular about the fuel they require, meaning differing levels of performance depending on the fuel’s properties.

Mazda’s technology, which it calls Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, is a mix of both worlds. Implemented in the Skyactiv-X engine, it continues to employ spark plugs for situations where compression ignition doesn’t work reliably, such as high revolutions. Otherwise, compression ignition can lead to up to a 30 per cent improvement in torque, fuel economy and emissions compared to Mazda’s current Skyactiv-G engines. Essentially, it would bring the high torque and fuel efficiency of a diesel to market, without the usual sooty emissions they are known for.

Mazda expects to debut the Skyactiv-X engine in 2019, although it has not said which models would get the engine first.