NEW YEAR, SAME GAME THE FORD Ranger has started 2018 where it left off at the end of last year, by topping the 4x4 sales charts. With January 4x4 sales counted, the Ranger outsold its biggest competitor, the Toyota Hilux, by just 12 units. There’s then daylight between the next-best 4x4, Nissan’s Navara. Significant growth in the Light Commercial (LCV) segment saw sales increase by 20.3 per cent overall (compared to January 2017 figures). In fact, 4x4 LCV sales were up a substantial 26.6 per cent. Tony Weber, the chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), suggested the strong sales growth was indicative of the tough competition within the market segments. “2017 was a record year for the industry and we’re pleased to see that strength continuing in the January 2018 sales results. Notably there was very strong growth in business sales of SUVs and Light Commercials,” Weber said. LCV Business purchases were up 26.7 per cent over the 2017 comparative sales, while private purchases were up 11.1 per cent.

TOP SELLER BY THE NUMBERS 20 top-selling 4x4s in January 2018 Source: VFACTS The 10 top-selling 4x4s in January 2018 Source: VFACTS

HILUX AIRBAG GLITCH TOYOTA Australia has issued a recall for 17,554 Hiluxes and 2526 Fortuners produced between June 2015 and December 2015, due to an airbag sensor fault. This recall, completely unrelated to the Takata airbag fiasco, is caused by two separate manufacturing issues, which can see the insulation layers of the IC chips possibly peel over time and create an open circuit in the IC chip. This could deactivate the side/curtain shield airbags and/or the front airbags. To rectify the issue, Toyota will begin to contact the owners of affected vehicles in the coming days. Once the replacement part is available in Q2 of this year, owners will be advised to take their Hilux/Fortuner to their preferred Toyota dealer for free reparation. Initial inspection – to see if the sensors need replacing – should only take 30 minutes. Should the sensors be faulty, repair time will vary between one and seven hours. Toyota Corolla and Prius models produced during the same period have also been affected by the recall. Affected owners can contact the Toyota recall campaign helpline on 1800 987 366.

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CENTRE-PIECE GERRY McGovern, Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer, was recently crowned the Designer of the Year at the Festival Automobile International in Paris. A 15-strong jury – from the automotive, sport, architecture, fashion, design, culture and media industries – awarded McGovern the Grand Prix du Design prize for his designs and influences across the industry. “It's an incredibly rewarding time to be a designer in the automotive industry and to be recognised by a jury from a wide variety of design disciplines shows the importance of design in all our lives,” McGovern said. “My team has worked tirelessly to create the most desirable vehicles that our customers will love for life – vehicles that resonate with our customers on an emotional level.” However, it seems not everyone is too pleased with the aesthetics of the new Discovery, especially its rear-end. StarTech in Europe has already produced a replacement panel that centres the number plate on the tailgate, so that it “doesn’t look so clumsy and lop-sided”. We don’t know about you, but we reckon it’s a warranted change.