Modern cars have a bewildering of hi-tech features, not all of which are user-friendly. Picture: SUPPLIED
Modern cars have a bewildering of hi-tech features, not all of which are user-friendly. Picture: SUPPLIED

Today’s cars are more technologically advanced than ever, but a large percentage of drivers remain clueless about how to use the technology, says a study carried out by the British Motor Show.

Advanced driver-assistance systems and hi-tech infotainment have been some of the biggest advances in car technology over the past decade but more than a third of drivers (35%) remain in the dark as to how to use them properly, with 20% of drivers saying they use less than half of the tech in their cars and a further 10% saying they understood only a fraction (less than 20%) and simply drive the car.

According to the British study, one of the main issues appears to be a lack of explanation when customers first buy their cars, with 71% of drivers saying they felt that not enough information about the in-car tech was given to them by the dealer.

A worrying 25% of car owners said they were given no information whatsoever about what tech was on their cars and how they should use it.


How Aarto can go wrong

The upcoming AARTO demerit system can cause bad driving behaviours to go from bad to catastrophic in one day. Picture: SUPPLIED
The upcoming AARTO demerit system can cause bad driving behaviours to go from bad to catastrophic in one day. Picture: SUPPLIED

If any company still has their doubts about changing their drivers’ behaviour and preparing before the Aarto (Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences) Act is implemented, advanced driver training company MasterDrive says bad driving behaviours can go from bad to catastrophic in one day.

“A company driver is driving at 90km/h in a 60km/h speed zone and is subsequently caught by a fixed speed camera,” says MasterDrive MD Eugene Herbert.

“On the way back from his meeting, he drove the same speed in the same speed zone and received his second fine for the day. This will have even more serious consequences than currently. Right now, he will receive a hefty fine. Once Aarto is in full effect, each infringement will receive six demerit points.

“The driver would have earned 12 demerit points in one day. Assuming he had a perfect record before this, one more demerit would result in his licence being suspended for three months. Additionally, he can still expect a large fine as well.”

An example like this illustrates how dangerous it is for both employees and employers to not prepare for Aarto, warns Herbert.

“Within the space of a day, a driver’s livelihood and a productive member of the company’s fleet are both placed at serious risk. Without even considering the safety risks, no business can risk their workforce being incapacitated by the consequences of bad driving behaviour.”

There are still a few months left before Aarto is fully implemented and this example should motivate every business to prepare, says Herbert.

“While no business is eager to take on the extra admin or consider what would happen if their drivers could no longer legally be on the roads, it is a folly not to do so. If you have not already implemented a road safety culture, start encouraging this attitude now. If you have and there are drivers who still receive fines periodically, consider further remedial action.”

Aarto is due to be implemented in June. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula believes it will improve safety on the country’s roads, but Outa and the AA have challenged the controversial bill, calling it an administratively complicated system primarily aimed at collecting revenue.


Alfa slowly pulls the plug on Giulietta

Days look numbered for the slow-selling Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Picture: SUPPLIED
Days look numbered for the slow-selling Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Picture: SUPPLIED

Alfa Romeo has slashed its international Giulietta production from 70 cars a day to just 40 and will likely kill off the unloved Volkswagen Golf rival in April.

There are no plans to replace the C-segment Alfa Romeo, whose sales have never approached its targets, and the segment itself is under unprecedented pressure from compact SUVs. The Giulietta sold just 21 units in SA last year.

Parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has already announced a cut in investment and resources for Alfa Romeo after its continued underperformance, and the brand’s entire future depends on the success of the Tonale crossover and its 2022 B-sized SUV.

By the middle of this year, the brand built on sports performance and style will offer just the Giulia and two SUVs (the Stelvio, the Tonale and a B-segment SUV).

Its place on the production line at Cassino will be taken over by Maserati’s upcoming D-segment SUV, sources insisted, and the sub-Levante Trident will arrive towards the end of the year.

While the Cassino plant also produces the Stelvio and Giulia, Alfa’s parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) continues to pursue job cuts and redundancies at the factory near Napoli.

Demand for Alfa Romeo’s range plummeted in January from an already-low base (the brand was outsold by the eight-year-old, Italy-only Lancia Ypsilon last year).

Details have yet to be confirmed about the future of the Cassino plant after the FCA merger with France’s PSA Groupe (the parent company of Peugeot, Citroën, Opel and DS).

Assuming Alfa Romeo demand justifies its continued existence, all of its future products are likely to be switched to PSA platforms, rather than soldiering on as orphans within the combined group.

Its future as a C-segment competitor is unsure, so the Giulietta may never be replaced. The segment lost 100,000 cars, or five percent of its market, in 2019, selling 2.65-million cars.

Also, PSA is replete with C-segment competitors already, with its Peugeot, Citroën and Opel offerings, all of which are more successful than the Giulietta.


Pininfarina hires ex-BMW designer

Former BMW, Opel and Mazda designer Kevin Rice joins Italian design house Pininfarina, which is soon due to put its Battista electric hypercar (pictured) into production. Picture: NETCARSHOW
Former BMW, Opel and Mazda designer Kevin Rice joins Italian design house Pininfarina, which is soon due to put its Battista electric hypercar (pictured) into production. Picture: NETCARSHOW

Pininfarina has a new chief creative officer on its 90th birthday to lead its rebirth.

Former BMW, Opel and Mazda designer Kevin Rice is moving to Turin to head up the classical Italian design house, which has been reborn under Mahindra ownership.

With its Battista electric hypercar in the starting blocks, Rice will be in charge of everything from automotive and industrial design, along with architecture.

Besides cars, Pininfarina has a long history of designing everything from trains to private jets to yachts and houses.

It collapsed before being picked up by India’s Mahindra in 2015, with the Briton Rice joining the company after being responsible for the exterior designs of the 1, 3 and 4 Series BMWs.

He left BMW in 2014 to become Mazda Europe’s design chief, before joining Chery in 2018.

Pininfarina was, alongside Giugiaro and Bertone, at the forefront of the great Italian design era of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Its most famous relationship being with Ferrari, for whom it designed all but one production model from the 1950s until the F12 Berlinetta of 2012.

Pininfarina has designed some of the most desirable and valuable cars of all time, including the Ferrari 250 GTO, the 1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, the Ferrari 330, and the Lancia 037 Rallye.