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I’ve been an enthusiastic car-lover for as long as I can remember. Earlier this year, I turned 16 and finally got my learner’s permit – the longawaited transfer from the backseat to the front right.
But what I found, not long after I chucked on the learner plates, was that driving on Sydney’s roads, is, for the most part, extremely unsettling due in part to the 90km/h speed limit. I’m sure the limit sounds fine in a Roads and Maritime board meeting but I challenge anyone to put yourself in the left lane on the M1 and stick to 90. Simple answer is: you can’t. Not unless you’re comfortable driving with a rear-vision mirror full of Kenworth grille.
Going 20km/h (actually, more like 35km/h) below the rest of the traffic isn’t safe, especially when you have drivers jockeying for lane position to access off-ramps. Surely in an automotive world replete with auto-braking devices and lane awareness systems, forcing learners to limp along like Paul Dumbrell in the three-wheeled Red Bull is unnecessary and dangerous.
We agree, Adam. Had politicians personally trialled proposed legislation like this before putting it to the vote, it’d never have made the statute books. – Ed
Adam Greenwood, Forestville, NSW
Vehicle safety has certainly come a long way in recent times, as highlighted by The Insider column: ‘ANCAP stars don’t always align’ (Wheels, November.)
ANCAP does not apologise for promoting new technologies and safe vehicles. Vehicle brands continue to meet ANCAP’s increasingly stringent standards, which is why 91 percent of new vehicles sold in Australia have a five-star rating.
This is a good thing for all road users, because you might be a good driver but you can’t guarantee everyone else on the road is. That’s why it’s important we have the safest vehicle fleet we can.
Of course, nobody benefits if new vehicles are too expensive, so ANCAP is also advocating to improve affordability. We are calling for the removal of the luxury car tax and import tariffs while also supporting more affordable finance and insurance.
James Goodwin, Chief Executive – ANCAP Safety
As an old Canberra boy, Steve Manley’s letter re car roadworthiness (December 2018) struck a chord. Back in the ’70s, the ACT had the annual ‘over the pits’ rego inspection. This was a rigorous 30-minute car examination, with technical inspectors crawling over and under your car, poking and prodding at suspension components, jabbing the underside to check for rust, checking for oil and coolant leaks, testing headlight alignment, and brake testing on a specialised machine.
Inspection failure rates were high, but this was offset by the location of the testing centres in light industrial areas where spare parts and auto repair shops were plentiful.
Although nobody looked forward to the annual inspection, it kept vehicle standards high. As a result, ACT cars were reputedly the best second-hand vehicles in Australia at the time, especially as they were being driven on federally funded roads.
Pete Rainbird, Figtree, NSW
Long-time subscriber, first-time poster. For pure EVs, where you would normally publish ‘Economy’ in a test, could you consider publishing ‘Range’ and ‘Charge Time’?
Also, I love Andy Enright’s turn of phrase. He reminds me of many former Wheels greats, maintaining your magazine’s traditions through a style of writing so sadly lacking in this day of thousands of selfproclaimed (online) journalists.
Adam Hughes, via Facebook
EV range is a big ol’ can of worms, Adam, as this issue’s EV megatest highlights. Charge times also depend on a number of factors. We’ll get to a standard eventually but it won’t happen overnight. And the lumbering human thesaurus Enright thanks you for your kind words. – Ed
With expected growth EV cars in the marketplace in the next few years, Wheels needs to publish their power consumption in kWh/100km for comparison. Currently listing their fuel consumption as 0.0L/100km is meaningless. Current test procedure PHEV is highly misleading resulting with unrealistic low L/100km as the electrical kW consumption is not included. Ideally Wheels needs to publish total power consumption of petrol, PHEV and EV cars for comparison purposes.
Ian Gibson, Kangaroo Point, Qld
The new WLTP protocol measures EVs in terms of kWh per 100km. For plug-ins, the tests are repeated several times until the battery is fully depleted. It also introduces a utility factor (UF) – the amount of time the vehicle is likely to be driven electrical power alone. percent, for an ICE 0 percent. In the case of plug-in hybrid vehicles, the UF increases with their electrical range. – Ed
Can I ask you what happens in the following scenario?
You are travelling on a country road at night and have just overtaken a road-train. All of a sudden a large roo jumps from the side of the road into your path (assume both you and the truck are doing 100km/h). Without AEB you would take the hit then get out of the way of the truck and trailers, but what would happen in a vehicle fitted with AEB?
Paul Collinson, Camira, Qld
Anything with pedestrian-rated AEB would, at that speed, slow slightly but still give the roo something to significantly regret. Volvo’s AEB has been famously unable recognise roos as people account of their freakish little heads), an XC60 would likely to smithereens. – Ed
Current ads on TV by Toyota intimate that if you have one of their hybrids, you don’t need to charge the battery because it simply charge itself whilst driving. Internal combustion engines are extremely inefficient machines but the conversion of the primary energy source (petrol) to another form (electricity) just that inefficiency. And that even considering the losses in the batteries and electric motors.
I can understand how a petrol motor, running at its most efficient revs and delicately charging the battery might overcome those losses, but I can’t see how a primarily petrol car with electric augmentation can be more efficient than a petrol only car if you only rely on the engine to charge the batteries, especially when the car is 100 to 200kg heavier.
Maybe you could dedicate a technical article to explain this conundrum to lay-people like myself?
Steve Mashiter, via email
It’s true, Steve – using the engine to regenerate the battery pack is spectacularly inefficient. Using deceleration or regenerative braking, on the other hand, most certainly isn’t.
Adam, the world needs more young car enthusiasts like you, especially when you make sound points about dumb road rules. Enjoy 12 issues of Wheels on us, and be sure to share them with your mates.