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.

California Won’t Buy Cars From GM, Toyota, Others Opposing Emissions Standards

California has announced that state agencies will no longer buy petrol-powered sedans, and from January 2020 the state will stop purchasing vehicles from car manufacturers that haven’t agreed to follow California’s clean car rules.

General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and multiple other manufacturers that sided with the Trump administration in the ongoing battle over tailpipe pollution rules will be affected by the change. According to data from the California Department of General Services, compiled by Cal Matters, California spent US$74 million on its fleet of passenger vehicles last year. The state’s decision could hit GM particularly hard – in 2018, California spent more than US$27 million on GM-owned Chevrolet vehicles while comparatively, it spent US$3.6 million on vehicles from Toyota and US$3 million on those from Fiat Chrysler.

The Trump administration has long proposed rolling back Obama-era standards curbing greenhouse gases and increasing fuel economy of passenger vehicles. Those rollbacks haven’t yet been finalised, but in September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said they removed California’s authority to make its own greenhouse gas rules, which 13 other states and the District of Columbia follow.

As a result, California and 22 states sued the EPA, after suing the NHTSA in September, arguing the White House unlawfully removed the state’s waiver, which was granted under the Clean Air Act. To fend off the uncertainty of a long fight in court, Ford, Honda, BMW, and Volkswagen made deals with California – the state agreed to relax the Obama-era greenhouse gas targets somewhat, and the manufacturers agreed to follow the state’s rules.

Mercedes-Benz EQC, Toyota Corolla Sedan Receive ANCAP Five-Star Safety Rating

The Mercedes-Benz EQC, the company’s first completely electric production vehicle, has achieved the maximum ANCAP five-star safety rating.

The SUV achieved high scores in each of the key areas of ANCAP assessment, making the EQC the sixth Mercedes-Benz model to achieve high marks under ANCAP’s stringent criteria.

The EQC received 96 per cent for adult occupant protection, 92 per cent for child occupant protection, 75 per cent for vulnerable road user protection and 76 per cent for safety assist.

“It is encouraging to see Mercedes’ high levels of safety carry across with their first EV market entrant,” said James Goodwin, ANCAP Chief Executive. “The EQC scored well for its protection of children with close to full points scored for its ability to physically protect child occupants as well as its ability to safely accommodate a range of child restraints in the second row.”

The sedan variant of the Toyota Corolla also scored well and is entering the market with five-stars.

“The Toyota Corolla sedan has carried through the same strong safety performance as seen by the Corolla hatch rated last year,” Goodwin said. “As one of Australia and New Zealand’s most popular new passenger vehicles, the Corolla provides very good all-round safety performance including collision avoidance capabilities.”

The five-star ANCAP safety rating applies to Australian and New Zealand-supplied Mercedes-Benz EQC models and all Toyota Corolla sedan variants that are on sale from November 2019. ANCAP’s five-star rating for the EQC is derived from Euro NCAP testing performed in September, while the Corolla sedan’s result is based on the Corolla hatchback’s testing, which was performed in July 2018.

Chery’s New Tiggo8 Receives Five-Star C-NCAP Safety Rating

Chery’s new SUV, the Tiggo8, has received a high score in C-NCAP testing and been awarded a five-star safety certification, according to China Automotive Technology & Research Center, the operator of C-NCAP.

The Triggo8 was marked with ‘exceptional performance’ in both front and side collisions, while protection of the head, neck, chest, abdomen and legs all received particularly high scores.

Chery’s Tiggo8 is equipped with automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, hill descent control system and other safety technologies.

Chery said the Tiggo8 received excellent performance in C-NCAP safety test as a result of its long-time efforts in maximising quality control. To this end, Chery said it has built a dual-matrix lifecycle quality management system and a “quality whole process management model ranging from product planning to system quality”.

Chrysler Creates 50th Anniversary 300 SRT Pacer Tribute Car

Chrysler Australia has made a unique Chrysler 300 SRT Pacer tribute car in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Valiant Pacer.

“We’re excited to bring to life a modern interpretation of an Australian classic, the Chrysler 300 SRT Pacer tribute car,” said Guillaume Drelon, Director of Product for Chrysler Australia. “Highlighting the signature details of the original, the Pacer tribute takes inspiration from the iconic design cues of the celebrated 1969 Valiant Pacer.”

The Pacer tribute features a full vehicle wrap to replicate the original Wild Yellow body colour and is adorned with black side stripes and a ‘Pacer 392’ decal on the front quarter panels and rear boot lid. It also has 20-inch black noise alloy wheels which are enhanced with the red stripe seen on the wheels of the 1969 Pacer, matching the red front splitter decal with the Pacer logo and boot lid decal.

The 1969 Chrysler Valiant Pacer was built exclusively for the Australian market at the Chrysler factory in Adelaide, South Australia. The Valiant Pacer was fitted with a 3.7 litre engine producing 130 kW and was paired to a three-speed manual gearbox. It was originally available in three colours – Wild Yellow, Blue and Red. The Valiant Pacer featured black exterior side stripes and red highlights accenting the grille and boot lid, while the exterior styling was further decorated with its ‘Pacer 225’ decals.

The Wild Yellow Chrysler 300 SRT Pacer tribute car is powered by a stronger V8 that produces 350 kW of power and 637 Nm of torque. All details from the original have been reproduced, resulting in the Pacer 225 decals turning into Pacer 392, which represents the capacity of the 6.4 litre V8 engine in cubic inches. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox with a rotary e-shift, launch control and rear wheel drive.

Chrysler will also announce a limited-edition production variant to be released soon.

WRC Rally Australia 2019 Cancelled Amid Bushfires

Kennards Hire Rally Australia and the final round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship will be cancelled due to serious bushfires that continue to affect much of the northern part of the state of New South Wales (NSW).

The cancellation comes after extensive consultation with the NSW Government, the international motor sports governing body FIA, emergency services and the local community.

NSW is experiencing its worst ever bushfire conditions, which have resulted in the declaration of a State of Emergency, a state-wide total fire ban and conditions in some regions being described as “catastrophic”.

“Considering the best interests and safety of everyone involved in the rally, and of course the wider community, it is not appropriate to conduct the rally,” said Andrew Papadopoulos, Event Chairman.

Papadopoulos said the cancellation was the only course available, considering the safety of the more than 1000 people involved as officials, competitors and in support roles.

“Our thoughts are with the NSW community, especially the people who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes as a result of the fires in northern NSW, and we thank the Rally community for your support and understanding.”

Ticketholders, officials, volunteers and the community can contact Rally Australia for more information at 02 6648 4972 or [email protected].

Kona Electric Earns ANCAP Five-Star Safety Rating

The Kona Electric has become the first electric vehicle to be crash tested in Australia, achieving the maximum ANCAP five-star safety rating in the process.

The Kona Electric underwent a frontal offset crash test and received an audit test score of 14.97 out of 16.00, slightly better than the 14.07 achieved by the petrol engine variant which was tested in 2017.

The frontal offset test simulates a head-on crash with another vehicle of the same mass and travelling at the same speed. This is a type of collision which represents 60 per cent of serious crashes on Australian roads.

The test saw 40 per cent of the front driver’s side of the Kona Electric collide with a crushable aluminium barrier at 64 km/h.

Kona’s overall score of 35.07 out of 37.00 is the sum of its frontal offset test result, its maximum possible scores in the side impact and pole crash tests, and its maximum score for the inclusion of seat belt reminders.

“Kona Electric’s pioneering position as the first ever EV crash tested in Australia, and its continuing ANCAP maximum five-star safety rating, further underscores Hyundai’s eco vehicle leadership,” said JW Lee, CEO of Hyundai Motor Company Australia.

Four Big Manufacturers Back Trump On California Emissions Challenge

According to Reuters, major car manufacturers are siding with the Trump administration in its bid to bar California from setting its own fuel efficiency rules or zero-emission requirements for vehicles in the United States, the companies said in a filing with a US appeals court.

The move by General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai and Fiat Chrysler follows legal challenges by California, 22 other states, and various environmental groups in September. Those challenges aim to undo the Trump administration’s determination, issued in September, that federal law bars California from setting its own tailpipe emission standards and zero-emission vehicle mandates. The group backing Trump also includes Mazda, Nissan, Kia and Subaru, along with seven US states including Alabama, Ohio, Texas, Utah and West Virginia, which argue that without the rule, their residents would have to pay “higher vehicle costs.”

In their filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the manufacturers and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said they backed the administration bid to bar individual emissions rules by states. They asked to intervene, arguing the administration’s rule provided “vehicle manufacturers with the certainty that states cannot interfere with federal fuel economy standards”.

A spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the action “doesn’t change our resolve to fight as long and hard as necessary to protect our standards. The courts have upheld our authority to set standards before and we’re hopeful they will yet again.”

Other car companies – BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen – which announced a voluntary deal with California in July on emissions rules, are not joining the bid to intervene on the administration’s side.

John Bozzella, President and Chief Executive of Global Automakers, a trade group representing major car companies, said those companies had little choice but to back the administration. “It’s been the federal policy for the better part of 40 years that the federal government has the sole responsibility for regulating fuel economy standards, but it doesn’t have to get to that,” Bozzella told reporters, speaking for an ad-hoc group, the Coalition for Sustainable Automotive Regulation.

“We can still reach an agreement” on fuel economy rules, Bozzella said, adding that companies still support a “middle ground” between California and the administration that would see rising attainable fuel efficiency requirements.

The Obama-era rules adopted in 2012 called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 miles per gallon by 2026, with average annual increases of nearly five per cent, compared with 37 MPG by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option.

After the four manufacturers, including BMW, announced the voluntary California pact, the Justice Department warned them the agreement “may violate federal antitrust laws,” according to documents seen by Reuters.

Kia Launches Seltos Compact SUV

Kia has confirmed that the Seltos will be available in Australia with high levels of technology, safety and an eye-catching design. Australia is the third major market where the Seltos will be available, coming after Korea and India.

“There has been a space in our product line-up for this car for longer than we would have ideally liked,” said Damien Meredith, Kia Motors Australia Chief Operating Officer. “However, despite being a little late to the party we are confident that the Seltos is the right car for the market and has the potential to be the belle of the ball.

“The Seltos is not only stylish but brings practical, useable size along with great technology, safety and value in a segment-leading package which also benefits from Kia’s industry-best 7-Year Warranty, 7-Year Capped Price Service and 7-Year Roadside assistance program.”

“The Seltos is an important car for Kia as it will play a central role in our international growth,” said Han-Woo Park, Kia Motors President and CEO. “Global sales of compact (small) SUVs are forecast to expand from 6.5 million vehicles in 2018 to more than 8.2 million by the end of 2022, and the Seltos brings Kia strengths in design, quality and technology to this popular segment. In the Seltos, we have created a car that can fulfil the diverse needs of customers in markets all around the world.

“Aimed at youthful, tech-savvy buyers, with a striking design inside and out, the car is also packed full of our most cutting-edge technology and safety equipment.”

For Australia, the Seltos will be available in four specification levels: S, Sport, Sport+ and GT Line. S, Sport and Sport+ front-wheel drive will be powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 110kW and 180Nm and coupled with a continuously variable transmission. Sport+ and GT Line all-wheel drive will feature a 1.6T-GDI turbo petrol engine producing 130kW and 265Nm, mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

An optional $1000 safety pack will be available for the S and Sport models. The optional safety pack includes autonomous emergency braking, “advanced smart cruise control”, “driver attention alert+”, electric parking brake, electric folding mirrors, auto up and down driver’s window and 15-inch rear disc brakes.

The Seltos will be available in Starbright Yellow, which is its standard colour, and premium colours Neptune Blue, Gravity Grey, Mars Orange, Snow White Pearl, Steel Grey and Cherry Black, which are all available for $520.

The Seltos will be available drive away from $25,990 and will be on sale from 25 October.