Thursday, February 27, 2014

Roadtrip - Jaguar's F type coupe comes to town

Jaguar Australia has managed to snag a LHD F-type coupe for a roadshow around its dealer network, and today it arrived on Queensland's perenially-sunny Gold Coast for a discreet cocktail party of a 100 invited guests!

Never mind its dealership reveal, celebrated with champagne and sausage rolls, Sunshine Jaguar has already taken a cash deposit on one, and several more orders appear to be in the pipeline.

Jaguar Cars North America also reports interest in the coupe is intense, perhaps even exceeding the build-up to the convertible! This could turn out to be the "new Jaguar's" most successful model.

When I fly in for next week's Salon d'Auto Internationale in Geneva I expect to see a smiling Ian Callum receiving an ovation from the media for his work on this car.

On Tuesday night, as is tradition in Geneva, Ian and I will join a multitude of car designers for a simple dinner (steak with mustard sauce, chopped lettuce and pommes frite) at the famous Cafe de Paris, where we will no doubt hear backhanded bouqets for the Jaguar designer, and consume many bottles of the local Swiss red wine. Very appropriate!

Friday, February 21, 2014


So, with the death throes of our remaining three car manufacturers still ringing in our ears, here comes another call for government subsidies!

This time it’s an overseas manufacturer (surprise, surprise), and the homogeneous ‘green car lobby’ (whomever that comprises?), calling for the federal government to subsidise the purchase price of electric vehicles and low emission hybrids!

Give me a break!

Honda Australia says the government should subsidise EVs and low-emission vehicles because it will save fuel. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that low volume sales of these cars are slower than an EV with a flat battery has it? You bet it has.

Honda is just being opportunistic, and looking for a quick buck from someone else to help cut the purchase price of their expensive low E cars - nothing more than that. The public are pretty smart. The so-called Low E cars cost a lot, have a poor payback, don’t really save them money at all, and their resale value is a total unknown.

A motor industry insider told me that dealers will not be paying out big trade-ins on these cars, because the wholesalers who move trade-ins from dealers to the used car markets stand to lose their shirt handling them.

Let’s get one thing straight. The car industry is currently producing the most economical cars the world has ever seen. There is tens of years of life left in the technology behind the internal combustion engine - both petrol and diesel. Right now, we DON’T NEED EVs and Hybrids, to save fuel.

Plain, ordinary petrol and diesel passenger cars are relatively cheap to produce, cheap to run and hold their value. Current emissions technology also means that today's cars are the cleanest around! They’re also safer and great to drive. 

Competition has ensured that today's new cars have great driving dynamics, fuel efficiency and heaps of standard features, that were expensive options a few years ago.

Electric vehicles and hybrids are just here to make the Hollywood set feel smug and superior, and going-green to them actually means making more money, not saving fuel.

If car makers want to invest in transient technology to keep the Greens and the Labor Party onside, go for it guys! The rest of us can pootle along with current technology that’s cost-efficient and fuel-efficient, for quite a while - thank you very much.

This is not to say that oil isn’t a dwindling resource, and we WILL have to come up with some clever solutions to keep personal, private mobility still attractive and affordable, but right now electric vehicles and hybrids are not the complete answer.

Believe me - there is no silver bullet. So you can ignore Honda and the Green Car Lobby for now. And, anybody else who says we should subsidise the sale of Low E cars.

Fisker Karma
EV Postscript: As if to underline the shaky nature of the EV business, Fisker Automotive filed for bankruptcy, and has been sold off at auction, just for the value of its patents, to a Chinese tech firm.
Designer and founder Henrik Fisker did a good job on the styling, not so much on the manufacturing quality.

The Karma looked great, but during testing with Consumer Reports in the USA, basically fell apart! The reputable magazine inferred in its editorial "This car should not be offered for sale to the public"