Industry News: Are fuel cells the ultimate eco cars?

The North American International Auto Show has marked the debut of a host of exciting new green car concepts, but few were as eagerly anticipated as Honda’s new CR-Z hybrid, dubbed the world’s first hybrid sports car

Yet despite its commitment to advancing electromotive technologies, Honda CEO and president Takanobu Ito is keen to promote the long-term benefits of a different technology.

“We continue to believe that a fuel cell electric vehicle is the ultimate solution to reduce CO2 emissions,” he says. “The development cost must come down and there must be a major expansion of the hydrogen fuelling infrastructure. But make no mistake, as a vehicle, the Honda FCX Clarity is ready now.

“Further, Honda is unique in making long-term investments to develop the refuelling infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles.”

So can fuel cell vehicles really break into the mainstream?

Big name manufacturers backing fuel cells

Despite fuel cell vehicles suffering a number of funding setbacks last year, it now seems that major car manufacturers are once again willing to put their faith in hydrogen powered vehicles.Nissan FCV

Nissan has delivered its first hydrogen X-Trail to a soft drinks company in California. The vehicle, which is based on the X-Trail SUV, is fitted with a 90kW compact fuel cell stack, a compact lithium-ion battery and a high pressure hydrogen storage system. Versions of the car are said to be capable of 90mph and a cruising range of 300 miles.

Toyota too has expanded its fuel cell demonstration program in the US placing vehicles with government agencies, universities and private companies in California and New York with the intention of adding more regional partners as more hydrogen stations are added.

According to Irv Miller, Toyota Motor Sales group vice president of environmental and public affairs, the plan is to come to market in 2015 “or earlier” and he believes Toyota “will not be alone” in the fuel cell marketplace.

And if you thought it was just the Japanese that are latching on to the technology then think again – PSA Peugeot Citroen presented a demonstrator with the FiSyPAC hydrogen fuel cell range extender system at a show in Lyon, France, in December – having successfully quadrupled the fuel cell’s lifespan and increased its efficiency by 20% since work on the project began in 2006.

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Industry News: Chrysler says “Meep Meep” for new campaign


Chrysler Australia has stepped back in time for a new retail campaign.

Not shying away from their brands’ American heritage, Chrysler Australia has developed an all-new locally produced television commercial inspired by the much-loved Road Runner cartoon series – aptly named “Off-Road Runner Sale”.

“We not only wanted to continue our popular record of producing cut-through themes for our latest Jeep campaign, we wanted something that was all-new, iconic and equally as entertaining,” says Craig Bradshaw, general manager marketing and product, Chrysler Australia.

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Industry News: Audi’s MD departs

Joerg HoffmanAudi Australia’s managing director, Joerg Hofmann, will leave the company this month, after steering the company to its fifth year of record growth.

Hofmann, who took over the reins at Audi Australia at the end of 2004, will take up a new role in Audi’s biggest market, Germany, as managing director of Audi AG’s retail network, based at the company’s headquarters in Ingolstadt.

He leaves Audi Australia on a high note – with a 2009 year end result of 11,310 units, blitzing the previous sales record of 9410 units (2008) by 20%.

In the five years since the end of 2004 when Hofmann arrived in Australia, sales have tripled from 3700 units (2004 result) and market share has also increased threefold from 0.5% to 1.55%(according to VFACTS total passenger and SUV sales FY 2009).

Hofmann is extremely proud of the achievements the company has made in the past five years, but believes the time has come for a new challenge.

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Industry News: Mercedes-Benz Toorak consolidates

Mercedes-Benz Toorak has now consolidated its entire retail operations on one location.

With extensive renovation work now complete at their Toorak-based showroom and workshop, the authorised Mercedes-Benz dealership has now integrated its satellite Camberwell facility into its updated Toorak site.
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Industry News: Spot the difference: New BMW 3s revealed

BMW 3 SeriesBMW has released the first images of its updated 3-series Coupes and Convertibles – but you need to look hard to spot the differences.

BMW says the update includes design changes to the front, side and rear to give both sporting models a dynamic and athletic appearance.

Select models will also receive engine revisions, fulfilling EU5 emission standards.
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Industry News: VACC sponsors truck expo

The VACC has become one of the major sponsors of this year’s International Truck, Trailer and Equipment Show (ITTES).

The event will be at the Melbourne Showgrounds, Ascot Vale, on March 18-20.

As a platinum sponsor, VACC branding will be displayed on all official ITTES promotional material and VACC will host a stand in the Grand Pavilion.

“VACC is delighted to become a platinum sponsor of the 2010 International Truck, Trailer and Equipment Show. It continues our commitment to the event, following our involvement at the inaugural 2008 show, through the CVIA Division,” VACC executive director, David Purchase, says.
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Columns: Michael Royce’s advice for car salespeople


I’m often asked by car salespeople for my advice on how they can be more effective at their jobs. So here are my favourite 7 car-selling tips that we may all know, but at the start of a new year are definitely worth re-emphasising:

Know your products.

One of the biggest mistakes that car salespeople make is to not bother to learn their products. It’s a lot harder to sell a product if you don’t know much about it. So take the time to become an expert on the vehicles you are selling. That will mean more sales for you (and more confidence).

Don’t act like a stereotypical car salesman.

Don’t do the usual lines and don’t talk in the car salesman’s lingo. It really turns customers off. Be real. Be yourself. Talk to your customers the same way you would talk to your parents or friends.

Listen to your customers instead of talking so much.

Pay close attention to what they tell you. The info they relate will help you to identify their needs, determine how you can best meet those needs and, ultimately, learn what it will take for you to make the sale.

Sell by the “Golden Rule.”

That means treat your customers the same way that you would want to be treated. (That’s a rare thing at some dealerships.)

Be grateful for your customers.

And stop thinking of them as stupid or as liars. Don’t ever forget that you need them way more than they need you.

Don’t hide the facts.

Don’t feel that your job is to shroud the car buying process in a fog of mystery. Instead, educate your customers. Explain the process in simple non-lingoistic terms. They’ll greatly appreciate it, I promise you.

Sell yourself – and your dealership – not just the brand.

It’s one thing to get a prospect to buy the brand you are selling. It’s quite another thing to get them to buy that vehicle from you. So don’t just tell your prospects how good your customer service is – show them.

Work smart, not just hard.

It isn’t just the amount of hours you put in that counts – it’s how smart you work with your customers. So focus on helping them. They’ll remember you – and buy from you – if you do.

Best of luck!



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Industry News: Carr keeps positive despite potential closes

The government is keeping its confidence in the automotive industry this week, despite fears the end could be nigh for two industry powerhouses.

Kim Carr

Comments this week from Ford chief Allan Mullally have indicated the Falcon may not see life past the current generation, and discussion is circling over the end of local engine production for Toyota Australia.

While those concerns have been balanced by news that Holden products could be making a strong return the the US marker, minister for innovation and industry Kim Carr is espousing further positives.

“Australian vehicle production volumes for 2009 have fallen to the lowest level since 1957, yet car manufacturers in Australia have emerged as survivors from the global recession,” claims the senator.

“This is a testament to both the sacrifices made within the industry, and to the effectiveness of the support it has received from the Rudd Labor Government.

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Industry News: Kia Motors Australia appoints new CEO

Kia Motors Australia has announced the appointment of Min Kun (MK) Kim as the company’s new president & chief executive officer.

He succeeds Terry (Tak Uk) Im who has been promoted to the position of president & CEO of Kia Motors in Russia, one of Kia’s fastest growing markets.

Kim has more than 23 years of experience in the automotive industry, first with the Hyundai Motor Company and since 2003 with Kia Motors Corporation.

Prior to his appointment as the new CEO of  KMAu, Kim held the position of director, Western Europe in the international business division at Kia Motors’ headquarters in Seoul, Korea.

During his earlier career with Hyundai, Kim worked with the company’s export operations division in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Pacific.


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Industry News: Audi A5 Sportback arrives in Australia

Audi is expecting a strong market for its new A5 sportback, which will be joined by an S5 mid-year.

This functional, five-door coupe offers Audi’s benchmark design and quality in a new ‘Sportback’ segment that borrows its emotional design from the A5 Coupe, adds the five-doors and load-carrying space of an Avant, and offers the storage and passenger room of a sedan.

The car will be offered with a range of TDI and FSI engines.

Audi has priced the sportback at $78,400 for the 2.0 TFSI and $89,100 for the 3.0 TDI model. The price for the S5 will be around $130,000.

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