The Porsche Taycan is one of two electric vehicles, the other being the Tesla Model 3, in the seven 2020 European Car of the Year finalists. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Porsche Taycan is one of two electric vehicles, the other being the Tesla Model 3, in the seven 2020 European Car of the Year finalists. Picture: SUPPLIED

Seven finalists for European Car of the Year announced

The shortlist of 2020 European Car of the Year finalists has been revealed.

Among the candidates are Tesla's Model 3, Porsche's electric Taycan and Toyota's enduring Corolla.

Every year since 1964, the Car of the Year organisers have brought together experts from over all over Europe to select the year's best new car.

Last year's winner was the Jaguar I-Pace. The vehicle was given the award primarily for its "value for money" and innovation.

This week the number of candidates for the next prize dropped from 35 to seven. The list of finalists is as follows:

BMW 1 Series

Ford Puma

Peugeot 208

Porsche Taycan

Renault Clio

Tesla Model 3

Toyota Corolla

The winner will be announced at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 2 next year.


It will be 10 years before EVs achieve price parity with petrol cars

High prices are one of the factors blocking mass adoption of EVs, and that’s set to continue for the next few years. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
High prices are one of the factors blocking mass adoption of EVs, and that’s set to continue for the next few years. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

The MIT Energy Initiative predicts that EVs (electric vehicles) will not cost the same as petrol-powered models for at least a decade.

MIT's Technology Review reported that the prices of EVs aren't likely to match those of their petrol-powered counterparts as long as they're powered by lithium-ion batteries.

This news comes originally from the MIT Energy Initiative, which stated that “it's likely to take another decade just to eliminate the difference in the lifetime costs between the vehicle categories” due to factors such as fuel and maintenance costs.

The lengthy time duration predicted for the disparity in retail pricing will slow the EV revolution and likely result in governments having to push stricter mandates regarding climate pollution to encourage quicker adoption of EVs.

The main issue is that the decline in the cost of lithium-ion batteries is expected to lull in upcoming years as they “approach the limits set by the cost of raw materials”.

Other research groups predict that the prices of EVs and traditional vehicles could be on par within the next five years. These, however, fail to take into account the shifting price of battery constituents when calculating the final battery price.

Lithium-metal, solid-state and lithium-sulphur batteries could eventually be used as lithium-ion battery alternatives, but it's still too early in development for all these technologies to definitively determine their potential.

Despite these complications with existing and developing options, the MIT report suggests that the increasing number of automobile manufacturers launching EVs at varying prices will support the revolution and make it accessible for a wider range of clients.

- AFP Relaxnews


Minibus taxis in Gauteng to get 'Uberised'

Taxis at the Germiston Taxi Rank. Picture: MASI LOSI
Taxis at the Germiston Taxi Rank. Picture: MASI LOSI

A pilot project is under way in Gauteng to have minibus taxis with spare passenger capacity operating an on-demand service via an app, much like Uber.

Victor Radebe, Executive Director of the Africa Mobility Centre, said this “Uberisation” of taxis was being developed in conjunction with the CSIR and the Gauteng division of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco).

He was speaking at last week’s transport and engineering roundtable hosted by Gibb Engineering & Architecture in Johannesburg. The event had experts from the technology, construction and transport sectors plotting a vision for the transport sector.

“Across the continent, we are facing rapid urbanisation,” said Radebe. “We need innovative thinking, but we also need to consult all stakeholders — especially the minibus taxi associations, which transport 70% of South African commuters.”

Radebe said some minibuses are empty on their return trips, which is a waste and a loss of income. The project, which is to launch in the first quarter of next year, aims to fill empty minibus seats by guiding drivers, via a smart phone app, to passengers requiring transport.  

He said that the province was growing by about 200,000 people a year which put a huge strain on infrastructure, which called for rapid innovation in transport and mobility and integrated thinking across sectors.

Fellow speaker Fana Morutla, Head of Business Development and Transportation at Gibb, said rail would also play a key factor in transport solutions.

Morutla called for an accelerated programme of investment in rail infrastructure, as  trains were capable of moving 80,000 to 100,000 people per hour versus only 2,000 people per hour by car.


PSA-FCA merger to go ahead despite lawsuit

The recently-announced merger is set to create the world's fourth-largest carmaker. Picture: REUTERS
The recently-announced merger is set to create the world's fourth-largest carmaker. Picture: REUTERS

French carmaker PSA plans to sign a $50bn merger deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) this year, a source with direct knowledge of PSA's thinking said, brushing off concerns over a shock lawsuit filed last week.

The recently-announced merger is set to create the world's fourth-largest carmaker and give the new entity the scale to meet technological and regulatory challenges that are troubling automakers globally.

FCA has already said the lawsuit brought against Fiat by General Motors last Wednesday was "meritless".

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Peugeot-manufacturer PSA remained focused on the merger talks, and intended to sign a memorandum of understanding on the deal this December, as scheduled.

Fiat also expressed confidence in reaching a binding merger deal with PSA by the end of this year.

GM filed its lawsuit in the United States, alleging FCA had bribed United Auto Workers (UAW) union officials over years to corrupt the bargaining process and gain advantages, costing GM billions of dollars.

FCA said the suit, seeking substantial damages, appeared intended to disrupt the Italian-American firm's merger plan with PSA.

PSA, whose brands include Peugeot, Opel and Citroën, is Europe’s second-largest car manufacturer.

- Reuters


BAIC wants to up its stake in Daimler

Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Picture: DENIS DROPPA

Daimler’s Chinese joint-venture partner BAIC has confirmed its intention to boost its stake in the world’s oldest carmaker.

The Beijing-based carmaker told an investment conference this month that it wants to lift its 5% stake in Daimler — and expects Daimler to do the same in return.

Seen as a blocking move against Daimler’s largest shareholder, Geely founder Li Shufu, BAIC is working closely with the HSBC bank, which helped it build its current stake.

Shufu, the man at the helm of the Chinese group that controls the Geely, Lotus, Proton, Volvo and Lynk&Co brands, owns 9.69% of Daimler in a move made early last year.

Since then, the two companies have said they will build electric smarts together in China.

- Michael Taylor


The Lamborghini for the digital age

Lamborghini created this one-of-a-kind racer for the Gran Turismo Sport racing game on Playstation 4. Picture: SUPPLIED
Lamborghini created this one-of-a-kind racer for the Gran Turismo Sport racing game on Playstation 4. Picture: SUPPLIED

Don’t cancel your order for that Aventador or Huracan, as you won’t be able to buy the radical new Lamborghini pictured here.

This Lambo Vision V12 GT single seater racing car is headed straight to the digital world as the Italian firm’s contender in the latest Gran Turismo Sport game on Playstation 4.

Lamborghini launched the concept car at the final round of the 2019 Gran Turismo eSport championsips in Monaco last weekend. The Lambo V12 Vision GT is concept, emphasising "fun to drive" within the digital environment of the gaming world, where it will be virtually available from spring 2020.

The driver enters the cabin like a jetfighter pilot, from the front of the car. The main driving controls are located within the futuristic steering wheel and all driver information is projected virtually in front of the driver.

“The Lambo V12 Vision Gran Turismo is created to provide the ultimate virtual car for young fans and gamers, who are ultra-enthusiastic about Lamborghini and its futuristic aspirations,” said Mitja Borkert, Head of Lamborghini Centro Stile. ”It is an opportunity for the design talent within Lamborghini to stretch its wings.”

That said, some of the radical styling cues might just trickle into next-generation Lamborghinis that you and I can drive for real.


A 217km/h tractor sets Guinness World Record

Guy Martin set a new tractor world speed record in his 750kW machine. Picture: GUINNES WORLD RECORDS
Guy Martin set a new tractor world speed record in his 750kW machine. Picture: GUINNES WORLD RECORDS

In a hurry to plough that field? Not a problem with this tractor, a modified JCB Fastrac 8000-series which has just set a Guinness World Record for fastest tractor with a 217km/h top speed, easily topping the 140km/h previous record set by Top Gear in 2018.

At the wheel was Guy Martin, who modified the tractor with a 750kW engine and a turbocharger with a massive intercooler, and fitted a racing seat and a roll cage.

The cab was modified for better aerodynamics, the body panels were replaced with lighter components, and there’s a rear diffuser for better high-speed stability.

The record run took place at the Elvington airfield in North Yorkshire, UK on a 3km runway.

"There are some good folk there and they said about this idea of building the world's fastest tractor. So I said 'if you want it piloting give us a shout' and that’s where it came about," Martin told Guinness.

He’s no stranger to oddball speed feats, having already set records for fastest speed on a gravity-powered snow sled (134.4km/h), and fastest soapbox (137.8km/h).