We’ve come to the end of the reporting season for our listed companies. It’s been tricky this year. If you’ve done well you have to spin it so the public don’t think you’re profiting from the pandemic but so your shareholders know you have been. If you’ve done badly you have to spin it so the public and your shareholders don’t think you’re about to go out of business or that you’ve paid the dividend from JobKeeper.
Well why should our friends in the car industry get away without a final financial report card? Today we give you the questions to ask at their AGMs (which we hope are virtual and available in Australia). “Can Renault make a worse car than the Trabant, commonly known as a spark plug with a roof?: Cue Trabant jokes from East Berlin: Why has the new Trabi been launched with two exhaust pipes? So you can use it as a wheelbarrow. What’s the best feature of a Trabant? There’s a heater at the back to keep your hands warm when you’re pushing it.
And our favourite car mag, Retromotive, goes digital as well as traditional.
Then there’s the report from London’s Telegraph saying: “The car that turned the most heads in Monaco early last week was not the Lamborghini Veneno, Lykan Hypersport or Bugatti Veyron casually parked outside the Casino de Monte-Carlo, but a Moke. Yes, indeed, after a long absence the quintessentially runabout — a car named after a slang word for donkey and so basic it lacks doors and a roof — was back.” This is the best news since the release of Troll 2, an attempted horror movie that centres on an American family being hunted by vegetarian creatures who try to turn them into vegetable paste so they can eat them.
And talking of eating we reveal the location of the world’s best steak sandwich as well as all the news from motorsport plus fast electric bikes (a contradiction in terms) plus where you can ride in an electric air taxi (very temporary passengers) and we mark the 20th anniversary of Alex Buzo’s Australian Indoor Tautology Pennant. Now I don’t want to sound incredulous but I can’t believe you get all this plus John Durie (who rides a bicycle … we always think it’s a miracle when he appears at the office), Terry McCrann (who wouldn’t be seen dead on a bike) and the prices of three month oats, Buddy Techno and Emu NL for $4 including GST but freight is extra.
OK, unfortunately the company with the biggest impact on Australian motoring, Takata, which made airbags that can rupture and send debris flying inside the vehicle killing those in the seats, went belly-up so no AGM opportunities there. Luckily Takata found the core of the problem. Its Mexican subsidiary had mishandled the manufacture of explosive propellants and improperly stored chemicals used in airbags. Identifying vehicles with defective airbags was made more difficult by the failure of TK Holdings to keep proper quality control records. So, three million cars recalled in Oz and 97 million in the rest of the world. Let’s give Takata 1 out of 10.
According to Rocket Rod Sims at the ACCC, 28 manufacturers including Bentley and Lambo have recalled more than 150 models in the first nine months of 2020. For instance, Audi has recalled 15 cars, saying the fuel tank in more than 1300 examples of its TT sports car built between 2014 and 2019 could be damaged in a crash and spark a fire. A great optional extra if you’re at the drive-in on a cold night.
Mercedes says that in their MY2018-2019 E, G, S and GTs an oil leak could occur, the oil could come into contact with hot components of the vehicle and cause a fire. This could result in serious injury to the vehicle’s occupants and other road users. Volvo has asked us to return about 27 models including this year’s S60, V60, V90, XC40, XC60 and XC90 because the automatic emergency brakes mightn’t be so automatic and cause you to run over John Durie on his bike or an ordinary punter walking across the road in front of you. And our old favs like Mazda and Honda are there.
In motorsport news you don’t need me to tell you who won last weekend’s Tuscan GP but interesting to see McLaren Renault could take third in the constructor’s championship. In the really important event, Ben Calder and Steve Glenney took out the Modern Competition section of the Gorge RallySprint with your WART Beemer taking ninth place or, if you take out the two cars that didn’t finish, stone motherless last. However, Mick said the steak sandwich with cheese, egg, bacon, onion and salad at the Cuddlee Creek Tavern at the end of the rally was the best he’s ever tasted. Only $9.50 with chips.
OK. Can Renault make a worse car than the Trabant? Yes, the new UK Which? magazine rates the Dacia Duster as one of the worst products to come out of its recent tests. Renault loves buying old East European car plants like Lada and Romania’s Dacia. Talking of death traps, the Moke is back. Moke International has launched 56 new, bigger re-engineered in Britain, manufactured in France, slightly bigger Mokes starting at $35k. Are there two worse things you don’t want to hear when buying a car than engineered in Britain, manufactured in France?
And for my boss, the big boss and other temporary persons, Monaco’s Venturi Group has launched the Wattman, the world’s fastest electric motorcycle in its category, which six-time world champion Max Biaggi will ride at over 330km/h. And in more shocking news, the electric air taxi company, Volocopter, is taking reservations for the world’s first public rides in its deadly quiet machine. $500 for your ticket to immortality.