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Home  /  February 2020  /  Comment

Yes, you’re at the right place. All the bad news is here. Let’s start the morning with the news from the boss of the London Loony Party, the New York-born Mr Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, that poms will only be able to buy electric or hydrogen cars and vans from 2035. Mr de Pfeffel Johnson, a former journalist (that explains everything) and fox hunter, told tens of supporters that a “catastrophic period of global addiction to hydrocarbons had led to the planet being swaddled in a tea cosy of carbon dioxide”.

Back home Electric Vehicle Council CEO (no vested interest there) Behyad Jafari said Australia needed to roll out an electric vehicle strategy to catch up with other developed countries. He joined other commentators calling for a ban on petrol cars and on the Australian Grand Prix in March. Now the call couldn’t have come at a worse time. This month our two leading car mags, Wheels and Motor, announced their cars of the year. In the all-important performance car of 2020, Motor went for the turbo petrol Porker 911 Carrera S ($265k). Wheels picked the Merc EQC ($138k). I take these choices to mean that if you want a nice quiet car to go to the retirement village or Home of Peace then the electric Merc is your choice. But if you still have feeling in your body and actually like driving and cars, then as usual the petrol Porker will make you feel like your life has not been a waste, that there is a heaven on earth and there are some things better than sex.

Look I’m a realist. Well that’s not true but I do know the end of the petrol engine will come suddenly. There’s a small number of engine plants in the world. As production of engines slows at some stage it just won’t be sustainable to keeping making them and the factories will shut. Of course, there will be some specialists turning out engines for racing like there are still piano roll manufacturers pumping out perforated paper that plays the pedals and keys.

Talking of historic cars, the Australian Historic Vehicle Interest Group has just lodged its pre-budget submission to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who was a very serious tennis player, playing against the Scud and Skunky and who represented Australia at two world university games but is probably not a major petrol or electric head. The submission wants the government to grant an exemption from the Luxury Car Tax for people who import historic cars (over 30 years old). The tax raises virtually no revenue, deprives Australians of jobs and sees great Australian classics go overseas with no chance of them coming back. A great example is the famous ex-Bib Stillwell, Jack (“Hi-Ho!”) Davey, Frank Gardner, David Finch, Richard Attwood, D-Type Jaguar, which last issue we told you RM are offering in Paris this week. If this were a painting or a normal sculpture it would come back to Australia but because we have politicians who think classic cars are what the masses drive rather than a critical part of Australian culture, these superb pieces of Australiana will increasingly stay in Europe.

As reader Kent Patrick says: “Apart from the now lost industry, we once also had a formidable collection of world-class historic cars, many with direct links to those who made our proud competition record from the very beginning of the motorsport era. They won’t return to Australia for exactly the same reason. We seem to have lost our way along with these important fragments of our past.”

And in more bad news, you know how the ACCC has taken Mazda to court alleging that the Japanese carmaker engaged in unconscionable conduct and made false or misleading representations in its dealings with consumers who bought one of seven new Mazda vehicles between 2013 and 2017? Rocket Rod’s ACCC alleges that these consumers began experiencing faults with their vehicles within a year or two of purchase. The faults affected the ability of the consumers to use their vehicles, and in some cases, included the vehicles unexpectedly losing power and decelerating while they were being driven.

Reader Andrew Roberts writes: Mazda have “not been able to accede to my request”, on behalf of my daughter-in-law, to reimburse the purchase cost of her 2013 Mazda 6 diesel stationwagon or replacing the vehicle following repeated failures, going into “limp mode” on and off freeways over the last 12 months. The dealership, from whom the vehicle was purchased in 2016, and Mazda Australia replaced the engine at no charge in February 2019.

“Since then the vehicle has ­failed on six occasions, necessitating return to the service department at considerable inconven­ience and expense. They have been unable to identify and fix the problem in a timely manner.

“A boost sensor was replaced, a failed rear exhaust pressure sensor replaced, an EGR bypass valve replaced and PCM computer board replaced. Subsequently a fuel temperature sensor unit was also replaced.

“In my opinion the vehicle, under Consumer Law, has proven not to be for fit for purpose nor been repaired in a timely manner. My daughter-in-law works as a intensive care nurse and commutes regularly, albeit unreliably. She has a young family and sudden vehicle failure, particularly at freeway speeds, is very dangerous.”

Well readers you know this is an old story but I get an email a week with a similar one.

Rod says: “We allege that Mazda repeatedly refused to provide a refund or a replacement at no cost to the consumers and pressured them to accept lesser offers which were made by Mazda only after multiple failures of the vehicles and repeated attempted repairs. In short, our case is that Mazda gave these consumers the ‘run around’ while denying their consumer guarantee rights.” Another day, another example.

And just a reminder for your diary: February 20 is the 122nd birthday of Enzo Ferrari. He died 90 years later. Enzo only wanted to build racing cars. He didn’t like building cars for the punters and he’s been proven right about his cars as an investment. That’s why in less than a month Dave Gooding will be selling a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider for $17m at Amelia Island. One of 50 and a piece of art. But don’t try and bring it into Australia.

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