Another year of motoring highs and lows, and without a doubt, it was a year when the motoring landscape changed completely.
European car making is getting stronger, and SUV’s remain the class of choice for 2017. Here are just eight favourites that made headlines in 2017:
1. Tesla losing money hand over fist despite producing exceptional, high-demand electric vehicles. Due to the high infrastructure costs going into speeding up the mass production of the highly anticipated Model 3, Tesla has posted a staggering $895.9M third quarter loss. Not to worry though, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has an expectation that 20,000 Model 3’s will be produced per month by the first quarter of 2018, in hope to satisfy the 500,000 potential buyers on the waiting list.
2. ŠKODA Kodiaq wins New Zealand Car of the Year. It’s been turning heads around the world since its launch and now the ŠKODA Kodiaq is NZ Car of the Year for 2017.
The mid-priced 7-seat SUV faced down nine other finalists for the coveted Car of the Year trophy. SUVs are currently the most popular segment in the Kiwi motoring market and ŠKODA's 7-seater space with the Kodiaq, which also has a 5 star Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) safety rating, means we’re well served by the brand.
3. Dyson release plans to make an electric vehicle. Sir James Dyson, creator of the well-known Dyson vacuum cleaner has indicated that Dyson will be branching out into creating a ‘radical’ electric vehicle with a potential launch date of 2021. With the added benefit of creating thousands of jobs, a significant amount of money will be invested. Sir James said he was spending $1.9 billion developing new battery technology, $1.9 billion on the hi-tech car itself, and $934 million on associated technology, including autonomous and 'robotic' equipment for cars. I guess the question on everyone’s mind is will it be yellow or purple?
4. Nissan Leaf tops NZ reliability survey. Consumer NZ released the findings of its latest car reliability survey, and it’s no surprise that a car without a combustion engine and gearbox has come out on top. Consumer head of testing Paul Smith revealed that just 4% of Leafs surveyed had a major reliability problem that caused significant repair costs or time off the road.
5. Sad Bogans everywhere - Australian Holden Commodore production ends. October 20 was the day that the final Commodore rolled out of Holden’s assembly plant in Adelaide, marking the end of almost 70 years of Australian production and 7.6 million vehicles. The Commodore name will not be lost though. It will now be used on the next generation of European Holden front-wheel/all-wheel drive sedans and wagons, which are said to be more than worthy replacements. I guess time will tell.
6. New brands hit NZ market: Tesla electric vehicles were launched in February last year, and it has established its first showroom in Grey Lynn, Auckland. SEAT, the Spanish branch of the Volkswagen group hit our shores. We recently tested the Polo-like Leon Cupra and loved it! Nissan’s arm of luxury, Infinity (think Toyota and Lexus) has been around for a long time, but has finally settled in NZ boasting some crazy technology and outstanding safety features. Haval is the SUV division of China's Great Wall Motors, featuring the H2 SUV, which received a 5-star ANCAP safety rating – the first Chinese vehicle to achieve the rating in NZ.
7. Mercedes-Benz created a ute. Arriving early this year, the new X-class pickup will take on the competitive utility market dominated by the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and VW Amarok. Said to be the perfect balance between the stylish design of a Mercedes-Benz and the uncompromising robustness and functionality demand of a ute, we’re sure Barry Crump and Scotty would have loved to test this one out like the Hilux.
8. Manufacturers ramp up EV production, date setting strategies. Electric cars are coming soon to a road near you, and that could signal the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine. Some manufacturers have pledged to release only all-electric or electrified vehicles (which include hybrids) by certain target dates. Norway has gone a step further and plans to phase out all fossil fuelled vehicles by 2025, which sounds feasible considering they have the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world: more than 100,000 in a country of 5.2 million people.