Red CentreNATS Wraps Up With Big Numbers

The close to doubling of entrant numbers and 14,008 spectators has cemented Alice Springs’ Red CentreNATS as one of Central Australia’s major events. As gates closed on the third and final day, 723 entrants had brought their vehicles to the Red Centre Capital, giving the event the right to claim success.

“What an amazing three days! The increase in both entrants and spectators has genuinely exceeded all of our expectations. If there was any doubt that Red CentreNATS would be supported, those thoughts can well and truly be discarded now”, said Andrew Hopper, NTMEC’s General Manager.

“I’d like to thank each and every one of the 723 entrants, who many have travelled significant distances to be here. Last year we were thrilled to have 456 vehicles, to have increased that number by almost 300 to 723 is just fantastic.”

“To the Alice Springs community, a big thanks for all your support and the thousands of spectators that travelled, spent their hard earn money in Alice Springs and enjoyed all the Red CentreNATS had to offer, I’d also like to applaud you for what you have helped us achieve this weekend.”

“Lastly we couldn’t run this event without the great support from the team at Summernats,” Hopper added.

As the huge numbers came through the gates over the past three days, there has been a number of all-important competitions running in amongst all the bling. It was a fierce battle, especially in the showcase Grand Champion and Burnout Master awards. Winners of the main awards are:

-Grand Champion Gregg Foss 1965 Ford Fairmont
-Burnout Master Darren Williams 1991 Ford XF Ute
-People’s Choice Malcolm Apps 1959 Holden FC

Many of the event’s judges praised the quality of show cars and competing cars at Red CentreNATS this year. The general sentiment was the standard was on-par, at least, with the major car shows across the country. In just its second year, Red CentreNATS has become a destination for the best of the best in the Australian street machining community.

“The Red CentreNATS is legitimately inside the top five car shows in Australia now,” said Andy Lopez, Summernats Co-owner.

With a minimum of a further five years left on the contract for Red CentreNATS, combined with this weekend’s solid results, event organisers are now planning for the long term growth of the event. The dust has not yet settled but additions, improvements and even greater excitement are already in the wings for 2017.


Holden Signs Three-Year Deal To Create Red Bull Holden Racing Team

Holden has confirmed its commitment to Supercars and motorsport in Australia by announcing a new three-year deal with Triple Eight Race Engineering to form the Red Bull Holden Racing Team from 2017.

Holden also announced that the next-generation Commodore will be on the Supercar grid from 2018. The new factory-backed Red Bull Holden Racing Team will develop, build, race and win with the next-generation Commodore Supercar from 2018.

This announcement also confirms that as part of Holden’s ongoing brand and business evolution, it will move to a single factory-backed race team from 2017 onwards. 

Holden Chairman and Managing Director, Mark Bernhard, said he was thrilled to be confirming that Holden is committed to Australian motorsport and Supercars for the next three years, and is proud to be partnering with Red Bull and Triple Eight Race Engineering.

“Motorsport has played a significant role in Holden’s heritage and we’re proud to be carrying on that tradition with the new Red Bull Holden Racing Team, while reshaping our brand and presence in the market and in motorsport. We’re taking our company forward. 

“I’d also like to thank and pay homage to Walkinshaw Racing with whom we have shared a proud history over many years,” said Bernhard.

“We’ll also continue to help Walkinshaw wherever we can. We support every Holden team in pit lane through various avenues such as marketing support, technical support, sponsorship acquisition, even down to helping design certain race liveries. We’ll continue that with Walkinshaw and I wish them all the best. Our relationship with Walkinshaw remains strong and we are working closely on future road vehicle initiatives as part of our ongoing partnership with HSV. 

“Fans around the country will see the new Red Bull Holden Racing Team on the grid from next year but I’m especially excited about our next-generation Commodore hitting the racetrack in 2018. Australia can rest assured that our next-gen Commodore will live up to the iconic nameplate, on and off the track.

“Triple Eight is the most successful team of the modern era, they are simply the best at what they do. We’re very proud to continue our partnership with them,” said Bernhard.


Ford to Add an All-New SUV

Ford will launch an all-new SUV based on the global Ford Edge – a key model driving the company’s global SUV success – about a year after Territory sales end in 2017, when Sport Utility Vehicle sales are expected to pass car sales and reach 40 per cent of the market.

After already doubling the number of SUV models since 2012, Ford will continue investing locally to roll out an EcoSport “Shadow” specialty model this month, a new Ford Kuga early in 2017 and more than double the number of derivatives to about 20 by 2018.

Ford’s SUV sales have increased nearly 40 per cent since 2012, driven by a doubling of the number of Millennials and Baby Boomers buying SUVs, based on the company’s internal data.

“Ford will continue to be ready for SUV growth to reach even higher record levels this decade, so we are investing even more to offer the freshest models with outstanding safety, fuel economy, technology and quality positioning,” said Ford Australia President and CEO, Graeme Whickman. “Adding the Ford Edge and further expanding our SUV line-up comes as many of the 5.5 million Millennials start having children and similar numbers of Baby Boomers continue to buy them after driving their early popularity.”

A tale of two categories

The SUV category in Australia has grown by a significant 71 per cent over the past five years, while passenger cars sales have fallen by 12 per cent. This has placed SUVs on a trajectory to overtake passenger cars as the top-selling vehicle type in local showrooms within the next five years. Through June 2016, 35.8 per cent of all Australian vehicle sales have been SUVs, with that figure increasing to 40.9 per cent among private buyers.

This unprecedented growth has led to proliferation of SUV models and increasingly specific customer demands, leading Ford Australia to double its SUV line-up in order to satisfy these needs.

Adding more utility

Arriving in 2018, the all-new SUV based on the global Ford Edge will offer customers a world-class SUV. The SUV will join the recent arrival of the Everest, which Ford’s Australian designers and engineers had a key role developing, and adds to the more than $2 billion Ford invested in local R&D the past six years.

With an emphasis on technology, the all-new SUV is expected to offer consumers new levels of interior and exterior styling and features usually found on vehicles at higher price points. It will also reflect the high take-up rate of the flagship Titanium variants across Ford’s SUV range, and will offer greater passenger interior space than the current Ford Territory. The naming of the Edge in the Australian market will be confirmed with other product details closer to the Edge’s arrival in 2018.

The vehicle joins the already wide choice of Ford SUVs, complimenting the existing line-up that includes the urban EcoSport and Ford Kuga, through to the off-road capable, locally-engineered Everest.

Five-seat Everest broadens appeal

Ford also is bolstering the appeal of those who are after a rugged SUV through a new addition to the Everest line-up. The new five-seat Everest will join the range in the second quarter of 2017 to give buyers even greater choice. The five-seat Everest will be offered in the Ambiente equipment grade, giving value-conscious buyers a compelling list of features with the benefits of the Everest’s design and space. It will be available with the Everest’s four-wheel and rear-wheel-drive systems.

The recently announced rear-wheel-drive Everest will be available in Ford showrooms by the end of the year. The rear-drive model further broadens the Everest’s appeal, and gives customers the roominess, high driving position and cargo space in a more affordable package.

New Ford Kuga

The Ford Kuga has benefited from ongoing investment to bring more derivatives and innovations to Australia, which has helped lead to a 9.4 per cent increase in sales through June 2016. A new Ford Kuga will launch in early 2017 with even more style and technology. The new model comes on the heels of rapid upgrades in the past year.

In 2015, Ford Kuga added a new 134kW and 176kW EcoBoost engines to offer consumers a great combination of power and fuel economy. Ford also standardised a reverse camera and SYNC 2 across the Ford Kuga range.


Volvo Tells Government Self-Driving Cars Could Be On NSW Roads By 2021

Swedish car manufacturer Volvo has told a NSW parliamentary inquiry that self-driving cars could be on sale in NSW within five years if local road laws are changed.
Appearing before the NSW Staysafe Committee’s public inquiry into driverless cars and road safety, Volvo said advances in technology meant that fully autonomous self-driving Volvos could be on sale by 2021, and could be safely driven on selected roads like the M5 and M7.
Volvo has called on the state government to conduct a self-driving car trial in Sydney before 2021 as part of ongoing efforts to address traffic congestion in Australia’s largest city. A self-driving car can accelerate, brake and steer itself without intervention by the driver.

“Volvo believes it is feasible to conduct a safe driverless car trial in Sydney on a connected road system like the M5, M7, M2 and M1,” said Kevin McCann, Managing Director of Volvo Car Australia. “This would pave the way for changes to the road laws prior to self-driving cars going on sale in NSW. This is possible within five years if local roads laws are changed to accommodate the cars.
“Having self-driving cars on our major roads in Sydney is not science fiction. It’s reality, and it is approaching very fast. Volvo and other manufacturers have developed self-driving technology and safety features to a very advanced level.
“Major cities around the world, like London and Los Angeles, are planning for it right now. Sydney is Australia’s largest city with the most traffic, so it makes sense for the state government and transport agencies to start planning now for the technology that could be on our roads by 2021,” McCann said.
In 2017 Volvo will run the world’s largest self-driving car trial on the Swedish city of Gothenburg involving up to 100 XC90 Volvos being driven by ordinary motorists.
Last November Volvo was a key player in the first limited trial of driverless cars in Adelaide.


Puretech Petrol Engine Named “2016 Engine Of The Year” In Its Category

At the 18th International Engine of the Year Awards held in Stuttgart, the 1.2 litre three-cylinder Turbo PureTech petrol engine developed by PSA Group was named Engine of the Year in the 1-litre to 1.4-litre category by a panel of international journalists. The award, received for the second time, is just the latest achievement for the engine model, which is manufactured at the Française de Mécanique plant in Douvrin, France.

In Australia, the award winning engine is fitted to Peugeot’s 208 and 308 models, while the Citroen Cactus and C4 hatch feature the powerful yet frugal powertrain.

Expanding the range of new generation PSA Group petrol engines

Due to the popularity of the three-cylinder petrol engine family, PSA Group has decided to increase its production capacity to support the energy transition. Nearly 370,000 Turbo PureTech engines have been produced at the Douvrin plant since 2014. An additional production capacity of turbo petrol engines will be manufactured at the Trémery plant in eastern France, lifting potential annual output to 670,000 engines by 2018.

Reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions while optimising vehicle performance

With 120 patents to its name, the three-cylinder Turbo PureTech petrol engine cuts fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 18 per cent compared with its four-cylinder petrol predecessor. The engine holds two fuel economy records. It claimed its first in Europe in 2014, with a manual transmission vehicle. Its second came in China this year, when an automatic model travelled 1,878 kilometres on a single tank, achieving a record-breaking 2.93 litres per 100 kilometres.

The engine also offers one of the most comfortable driving experiences on the market – even at the lowest speeds – and the best low speed/power compromise: 130 hp with torque of 230 Nm. The 1.2 PureTech 110 hp and 1.2 PureTech 130 hp engines are fitted on B and C segment vehicles.

First launched in March 2014 on the Citroën C4 Picasso and the Peugeot 308, the PureTech engine is now fitted on more than 60 different models worldwide, including the new Peugeot 3008 unveiled on 23 May 2016.

Commenting on the award, Christian Chapelle, Vice-President, Powertrain and Chassis Engineering, PSA Group, said: “Receiving this award for the second year in a row is a testament to our technological expertise and efforts to optimise our engines and reduce their environmental footprint while at the same time delivering high-quality performance.”


Google Self-Driving Car Project And FCA Announce First-Of-Its-Kind Collaboration

The Google Self-Driving Car Project and FCA announced, in a first-of-its-kind collaboration, that they will integrate Google’s self-driving technology into all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to expand Google’s existing self-driving test program. This marks the first time that Google has worked directly with a car manufacturer to integrate its self-driving system, including its sensors and software, into a passenger vehicle.

The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be used later this year for Google’s self-driving testing, more than doubling Google’s current fleet of self-driving test vehicles. Engineering responsibilities will be shared based on each company’s respective expertise. FCA will initially design and engineer around 100 vehicles uniquely built for Google’s self-driving technology. Google will integrate the suite of sensors and computers that the vehicles will rely on to navigate roads autonomously.

Both companies will co-locate part of their engineering teams at a facility in south-eastern Michigan to accelerate the design, testing and manufacturing of the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica.

“FCA has a nimble and experienced engineering team and the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan is well-suited for Google’s self-driving technology,” said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer, Google Self-Driving Car Project. “The opportunity to work closely with FCA engineers will accelerate our efforts to develop a fully self-driving car that will make our roads safer and bring everyday destinations within reach for those who cannot drive.”

Self-driving cars have the potential to prevent some of the 33,000 deaths that occur each year on U.S. roads, 94 per cent of which are caused by human error. This collaboration will help FCA and Google better understand what it will take to bring self-driving cars into the world.

“Working with Google provides an opportunity for FCA to partner with one of the world’s leading technology companies to accelerate the pace of innovation in the automotive industry,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, FCA. “The experience both companies gain will be fundamental to delivering automotive technology solutions that ultimately have far-reaching consumer benefits.”

Google’s self-driving cars are currently being tested in four American cities. The self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be tested by Google’s self-driving car team on its private test track in California prior to operating on public roads.


Confusion Reigns Around Parallel Car Imports

Australia’s competition watchdog today created more policy confusion around the parallel car imports debate and in doing so, contradicted previous announcements by the Minister.

The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said the public statements made by an ACCC Commissioner in Melbourne are completely at odds with the Minister’s position and have added even more confusion, rather than clarity, to the entire debate.

“The ACCC displays a lack of consistency and technical knowledge in its statements about this issue, and pity the poor consumers out there who are looking to their taxpayer-funded watchdog for any clear advice on this matter,” Weber said.

“On its own website, the ACCC warns consumers about the perils of parallel imports and how limited protection is offered in these transactions (from the ACCC website: “If the seller is based overseas, there may be practical and legal difficulties in enforcing your consumer guarantee rights against an overseas business.”). Now it has not only back-flipped on this advice but foreshadowed a situation in which businesses can import vehicles – in complete contradiction to the Minister’s stated position.”

Weber said that the Australian car industry has always embraced open and fair competition.

“Our market is already one of the most competitive in the world, with over 67 brands and more than 400 models, and this is a significant part of why vehicle affordability in Australia is at its best in 41 years,” he said.

“The ACCC is taking a perplexing and simplistic stance to what is a complex issue laden with massive financial risks and limited protection for consumers who inadvertently make a bad decision.

“The ACCC seems to think that someone can jump on the Net and make an overseas car purchase as easily as picking up a mobile phone, book or handbag.

“We doubt the technical expertise of the ACCC to declare that cars engineered and built for other markets are suitable for Australian conditions. After all, we are not talking about a CD.”

“The industry is working closely with government on striving for world’s best standards and practice on safety, emissions and autonomous vehicle technology. How does it make any sense to step backwards based around assertions as these?”


FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber


Jaguar XF Awarded Five Star ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP has issued a 5 star safety rating to the all-new Jaguar XF due to a suite of advanced safety features being fitted as standard equipment. The 5 star rating covers all variants. Chief Executive Officer of ANCAP, James Goodwin said” The XF has a high standard of safety features buyers would expect in this sort of vehicle including AEB City and Interurban. It scored the highest pedestrian rating of “good” and is fitted with an active bonnet’

The XF has already received the maximum five stars rating from Euro NCAP against 2015’s highly demanding test protocols and was amongst the most highly rated models in the segment. â€œThe XF was engineered without compromise: we placed just as much focus on safety as we did on dynamics, performance, refinement and efficiency, and our stringent in-house standards far exceed the requirements of legislative and consumer tests.

“Everything from the aluminium alloys we developed for the body structures to the state-of-the-art stereo camera at the heart of the Autonomous Emergency Braking system has been painstakingly optimised to deliver world-class levels of safety.” Said Kevin Stride, Vehicle Line Director, Jaguar XE, XF, F-PACE.

Jaguar has developed a suite of technologies to make driving safer, more relaxing and more enjoyable. From systems that improve low-speed traction in adverse conditions to smart braking systems which use stereo cameras to scan the road ahead – the XF is the intelligent choice in the large car segment. The new XF is one of the first vehicles in the segment to feature a stereo camera. This state-of-the-art sensor provides a 3D view of the road ahead and is at the heart of the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system.

All models of Jaguar XF offer a full suite of active safety technologies and advanced driver assistance systems* including Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, Emergency Brake Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Closing Vehicle Sensing and Reverse Traffic Detection.


Holden Spark Awarded Five Star ANCAP Safety Rating

The critically acclaimed, all-new Holden Spark, has been awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating – the highest rating available in Australia. Key to Spark’s maximum safety rating are a number of key safety features including driver assistance controls such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control (TC) and Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS); front, side and curtain airbags; and a rear view camera with park assist on the higher-spec LT model.

Another important attribute in Spark’s safety story is a high-strength steel safety cage, giving the micro-car exceptional strength qualities. Spark’s high-strength steel safety cage is capable of supporting a roof-load force 3.92 times that of its own weight – that’s a total of just under 3.9 tonnes* or if you’re an excellent jenga-playing fan of State of Origin – that’s the weight of the Queensland and New South Wales squads combined!**

Holden’s Director of Vehicle Performance, Ian Butler, said that safety was the first priority in developing the all-new Spark during engineering work carried out by Holden with GM internationally. â€œSafety has always been Holden’s first priority, and Spark is no exception thanks to a variety of features and vehicle attributes,” Butler said. â€œSpark’s design is based on an all-new, stiffer, stronger architecture with a high-strength steel safety cage capable of supporting a weight-load 3.92 times its own bodyweight. In terms of active safety, Spark comes with ESC, TC and ABS as standard across the range and all of which were tuned by Holden engineers at our Proving Ground in Lang Lang.”

The five-star ANCAP rated Holden Spark is now on sale at dealers nationwide, with Spark pop-up brand experience centres touring Australia from the end of April, offering customers a relaxed brand and product browsing experience in convenient shopping centre locations as follows:

-Westfield Chatswood, Sydney 25 April – 22 May
-Chadstone Shopping Centre, Melbourne 30 May – 26 June
-ENEX100, Perth 4 July – 17 July
-Westfield Chermside, Brisbane 25 July – 7 August
-Westfield Marion, Adelaide 15 August – 28 August

*based on Spark LS manual transmission – 1017kg (x 3.92 = 3.917 tonnes)
**based on combined weight of the 2015 State of Origin squads (QLD aggregate weight 1777kg, NSW aggregate weight 1911kg) as detailed on the QLD and NSW State of Origin websites.


Tesla Launches New Model 3

Tesla Motors’ latest offering is the new Model 3, launched a few days ago to a crowd in rapture at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, California and online to a worldwide audience estimated in the millions.

Tesla’s most important undertaking, the Model 3 is to be sold for US$35,000 and is designed to bring electric vehicles and autonomous driving to the masses. By the looks of it, and the interest it’s attracted so far, it just might succeed. The Model 3 is a sedan capable of seating five and driving approximately 345 kilometres on a single charge, with a 0-100 km/h time of less than six seconds on the base model.

At the time of going online, reservations for the Model 3 had topped 276,000 since the company began taking deposits on 31 March. The 276,000 reservations mean more than US$11.5 billion worth of orders, based on Elon Musk’s assessment that the average Model 3 would cost about US$42,000 with options. Last year, Tesla’s global revenues were about US$4 billion.