NEWS PAGE - November 2017

The latest and greatest headlines from the world of motoring.

3y ago

THIS MONTH: California introduces gender-neutral licenses, Toshiba invents a battery that can (probably) give more range and (possibly) explode, it’s now easy to go electric from Adelaide to Melbourne…if you’ve got a Tesla, Hyundai invents a stupid airbag for sunroof people, and a brand new twenty-year-old supercar goes under the hammer for a shocking price...and we don’t know what it is.


Various discriminatory criteria are used to judge your car insurance premiums, such as where you live, what your car is, your age, your hair colour, and most importantly, your gender.

Funnily, research has revealed that men and women are chemically different, and this means they drive differently. Women generally aren’t as spatially aware, whereas men often get a bit reckless. And have more serious accidents according to the charts.

This means that male drivers must put up with higher premiums. But there may be a glimmer of hope.

California has just passed a bill allowing drivers to identify as “non-binary” on their licenses, if they don’t want to be considered male or female, because sometimes they feel like both.

Bill SB179 was signed late on Sunday, and it extends to state identification which also means you can alter your birth certificate. The short and the long of it is that car insurance companies don’t have a leg to stand on, should you decide to identify as a woman, or non-binary, and thus reduce your premiums.

It might even follow that if you don't feel like you're 19, you can change your age too.

Though perhaps insurance companies may just get rid of all discrimination. And make it expensive for everyone.


One of the biggest complaints with electric car technology, aside from the fact that vegan people like it, is a disease called “range anxiety”. In other words, you’re travelling from Canberra to Sydney in your Nissan Leaf, and you run out of electricity in Marulan and have to stop and charge for an hour.

And there is nothing in Marulan except shops that sell cushions. An hour is a lifetime in a shop that sells cushions.

But EV ranges continue to improve across the board, and Toshiba now claims to be leading in this space.

The Mitsubishi i-Miev and Honda Fit EV (an electric Jazz) already feature Toshiba’s lithium-ion Super Charge ion Batteries (SCiB), which apparently allow a charging time of half an hour from a charging station, or on the other hand, 14 hours from an 110 volt power supply, for a range of about 160km.

But now Toshiba claims they’ll be using titanium-niobium oxide anodes - I have no idea what that is – to create SCiBTM, a battery that will deliver 320km of range on a six-minute charge. SCiBTM will apparently come out in 2019.

But while brands like Honda and Mitsubishi have taken to Toshiba’s batteries for the Japanese market at least, Toyota and others are steering clear of lithium and other liquid electrolyte batteries, because they can explode in a collision.

So perhaps we haven’t solved anything.

Shadow men are artist's impression only. We think.

Shadow men are artist's impression only. We think.


Speaking of EV range, Tesla has rolled out five new Supercharger stations in Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia – though the latter probably won’t have any electricity to power it half the time.

There’s now 18 Supercharger stations in Australia, and the link from Adelaide to Melbourne is complete. That’s on top of the 380 something destination chargers and there’s also plans for another 17 Superchargers to be built very soon.

Tesla claims it should take 30 minutes to build up 270km of charge.

If you’re wondering how the whole system works, charging is free for those who bought a Tesla before 2017, and free up to 400kWh for those who bought one from 2017 onwards. The power is tapped from the energy grid but some stations offset it with rooftop solar panels.

In some places, nearby businesses cover or contribute towards the power bill. Because obviously it’s good for business to have owners walk over while their car’s getting charged.

There have been talks about sharing the Supercharger network with other car brands, but at the moment, Tesla drivers can be very smug to other EV drivers. Who, in turn, are very smug to other car drivers, but okay, we won’t stoke that.

To activate jumping pillow, roll car on its roof.

To activate jumping pillow, roll car on its roof.


Every year, hundreds of people get thrown from their open sunroof in rollover collisions, and because of this, Hyundai Mobis has revealed the world’s first sunroof airbag.

But we’ve been thinking about how a person can be thrown from a sunroof. And after considering all possibilities, and some impossibilities, we’ve decided the only way you could fly out of a sunroof in a rollover collision is if you weren’t strapped in. And that were you stupid enough not to be strapped in, and you did fly out of the sunroof, you should be glad you didn’t hit the roof instead.

So while that’s a rubbish reason to make a sunroof airbag, Hyundai also claims that it would help prevent head and neck injuries in a rollover collision – essentially in the same way a full roof airbag would.

That’s really what it is. Deployed, the airbag covers the roof, but while it would be much easier to make a fixed roof airbag work, it’s apparently proving difficult to integrate such an airbag into the surround of a panoramic sunroof and make it function properly regardless of whether the sunroof is open or closed.


Generally, when you buy something very nice, you don’t leave it sitting in its packaging - unless you’re Greek.

But a rich Japanese man did just that with a yellow example of what some regard as the greatest supercar ever made, the 1997 McLaren F1. He got it with 239km of factory testing on the odometer, and he didn’t add a single kilometre to that, nor has he even removed the protective coverings in the interior.

There’s also many McLaren accessories with it, which are also in their wrappings, including a set of bespoke luggage and a TAG Heuer with the individual F1 chassis number.

Actually, there is a reason why you might leave something so very nice in its bubble wrap. The brand new 1997 McLaren F1 was sold at auction, and though the final bid wasn’t revealed, whispers are that it sold for well, quite a bit.


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Photo credit:, Getty Images, Gas 2, Tesla, TopGear Malaysia, CarAdvice

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Comments (26)

  • Maybe some day in the future an earthquake will cause California to break away from the continental US and float down to Australia.

      3 years ago
  • Another great article, John! I think in this day and age we should maybe just make airbags and put the other parts of the car around them. 😆

      3 years ago
  • Thanks for the motoring world updates. Another amusing read from one of my favourite motoring journalists.

    The claim from Tesla of a 30 minute charge getting me 270 km still won't even get me from Canberra to Sydney, and I assume those figures are when the batteries are brand spanking new, so probably not valid a year after one has bought the said Tesla. Looks like cushions in Marulan will become a regular occurrence.

      3 years ago
    • Assuming that you use the air con and the radio in the car and maybe a couple of other features that run on electricity, it certainly won't be giving that kind of mileage!

        3 years ago
  • Thank you for the review. You are very good at picking original news up and presenting them with a splendid note of humor. I liked most your explanation of why the sunroof airbags are needed.

      3 years ago
  • I can't stand this electric car fad, it is just not the way of the future at all. Very very few countries around the world get more than 90% of their energy from renewable sources so electric cars make sense there but not for the rest of the world because you are generating carbon emissions anyway not from our tailpipe though. Not to forget the danger of the batteries and how they need to be replaced every few years and the damaging manufacturing process. Yes I heard about that McLaren, funny chap but I bet he made a hefty sum from the sale of the car. Nice work! I can't imagine why there are people who still don't wear their seatbelts! In California, insurance companies should just charge people with no gender the most to put them off exploiting the system

      3 years ago
    • Yes, the only area in which I can see any reasonable current need for electric cars is in the big cities where pollution can be quite a problem for air quality and acid rain. The biggest reason for buying an electric car, at least in Australia,...

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        3 years ago
    • If Australia has no big cities then NZ has towns. We currently have one or two superchargers in the entire country and really their placement isn't that good. Also most malls are public places don't have ev chargers yet. As far as I know the...

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        3 years ago