NEWS PAGE - October 2017
The latest and greatest headlines from the world of motoring.
THIS MONTH: A Dyson car for Dyson people, a road train tows a Land Rover - no, no, the other way round - Greenpeace causes angst in the UK and there's a new posh Hyundai.
DYSON IS BUILDING AN ELECTRIC CAR_
There are two types of people. Dyson people and Other Vacuum Cleaner people. Being a member of the former circle, I can give insider information that Dyson people look down on Other Vacuum Cleaner people.
Other Vacuum Cleaner people, on the other hand, think that Dysons are overrated and overpriced suckers bought by suckers. It’s actually quite partisan.
But what silences Other Vacuum Cleaner people is the mere mention of Dyson’s incredible Cyclone technology, which we all know James Dyson brilliantly developed. I have no idea what Cyclone technology actually is, but I’ve found that it tends to shut down the debate. Probably because nobody else knows what it is either, and they can’t be bothered arguing about vacuum cleaners anymore.
Now Dyson wants to revolutionise another field with their innovation. Apparently undaunted by the quiet failure of the tech giants Apple and Google, Dyson has announced they want to launch a battery electric vehicle by 2020.
This is terrifically ambitious. Stupidly so, in fact. 2020 is almost two years away. It takes Mercedes-Benz more than that to update a new model, much less create a whole new one from the drawing board. The difference is Mercedes has production facilities and over a century of expertise. Dyson has 400 staff, $3.4 billion, and some bright ideas.
Admittedly, it isn’t totally out of the blue. In 1990 Dyson invented a particulate filter which made diesel exhaust much less toxic, but just like the established vacuum cleaner companies weren’t interested in Cyclone technology when James Dyson approached them, the car industry at the time thought the filter required too much maintenance. So it got put away.
Apparently, Dyson has watched and waited, and just recently James Dyson announced that they were unamused by government subsidies for “oxymoronically designated ‘clean diesel’ engines”, even more unamused by the Dieselgate scandal, and since “automotive firms were not changing their spots”, they’d gone and developed battery technology and researched electric propulsion.
What he didn’t say is that they’d also stolen staff from Aston Martin.
So now Dyson wants to put its research into action, and create their idea of a green car. By 2020.
LAND ROVER TOWS A ROAD TRAIN AND NOBODY BREAKS_
In 1989, which is when the first George Bush was elected, I think, Land Rover performed the most epic publicity stunt since Andre Citroen sent a Traction Avant off a cliff to prove how strong the monocoque was. They had a Discovery tow a heavy train.
Land Rover obviously liked the effect, because they keep doing it.
Last year the smaller Discovery Sport towed three train carriages over 10 kilometres – a load of 100 tonnes, which is sixty times its own weight and well above the maximum tow rating. Which proves the maximum tow rating is just a marker for warranty claims.
But it’s still nothing compared to what they’ve gone and done now. To announce the 2018 Discovery, Land Rover hitched one to a G&ST road train in the Northern Territory, and took it 16 kilometres.
Land Rover’s driver said, “Pulling a rig and seven trailers, with the rolling resistance of so many axles to overcome, is a huge achievement. We expected the vehicle to do well but it passed this test with flying colours, hitting 44km/h along its 16km route.” Blame this on its very torquey 3.0L diesel.
So now when you pass a G&S Transport truck on the freeway – which happens every three minutes – there’s a new fact to annoy your travel companions with.
Inside the backpack: Stickers and some kale munchies to keep the outrage at fever pitch.
GREENPEACE TRIES TO KEEP THE GERMANS FROM LANDING IN BRITAIN_
Speaking of publicity stunts, last Thursday Greenpeace activists in the UK got quite carried away in a rather large-scale demonstration against Volkswagen and their dirty diesel.
A big cargo ship carrying VWs from Germany was in the Thames Estuary when 30 green people paddled out in small boats to meet it. Meanwhile, another 40 broke into the yard at Sheerness Port, which is where the ship was heading, and removed the keys, opened the bonnets, and left messages on thousands of VWs awaiting distribution across the UK. Which is thoroughly illegal.
Many of those in the boats boarded the cargo ship, took selfies, and refused to get off until VW committed to “take its toxic cars back to Germany”. Presumably a hole in the ozone above Germany is better than one above the UK.
What did VW have to say about this? Hours after it happened they announced, “The ship contains a variety of Volkswagen Group vehicles, including petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models. The diesel vehicles, which are the subject of the protest, meet strict Euro-6 standards.” In other words, the green people are protesting against engines which conform to the standards they wanted. Yesterday, anyway.
Despite this, to all reports, many of the activists seem to still be onboard the ship and have to date, successfully kept it at sea. I have no idea why the captain didn't just clap them in irons.
Perhaps fearing this could all end in court, and with good reason, Greenpeace has come out and named some of the protesters.
A NEW GENESIS_
What Lexus is to Toyota and Infiniti to Nissan, Genesis is to Hyundai. And unlike either of those, Genesis decided to make decent luxury cars from the start.
I need not remind you, but I will anyway, that the first Genesis achieved the highest crash test score of any car. So when someone asks you which car you’d most want to have an accident in, don’t be boring and say none. Say a Hyundai.
Though, just like Lexus and Infiniti, but a bit less so at the moment, Hyundai positions Genesis as a separate brand. So technically it isn’t really a Hyundai, and even though you still buy them from your local Hyundai dealership, there’s supposed to be a distinction in the showroom. Better pens or something.
Looks like no Hyundai we've ever sat in. Cause it's not.
The latest model is the G70, and Hyundai – I mean Genesis – is eager to pitch it as a rival to the BMW 3-Series (which it actually looks a tad like, from the side) and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. While I am entirely unbiased, and would never let badge snobbery creep into my utterly scrupulous judgment, I would sort of rather have the BMW. Even for $5,000 more.
The G70’s performance is impeccable. The top-spec engine is the 3.3L twin-turbo shared with the new Kia Stinger GT. So it’s got the Stinger’s power output of 272kW and torque of 510Nm, but obviously the acceleration differs, at 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds. Very good.
What Genesis knows it loses in badge credentials, it hopes to gain in good publicity, digital marketing, and better service. I wouldn’t let underdog or challenger mentality dictate my espousal here – but I hope it’s a winner.
THAT'S ALL FOR THIS MONTH. LEAVE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW_
Photo credit: Dyson, autorevolution.com, Metro, netcarshow.com