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The Week in Review

By Barry Park, 28 Nov 2014 News

The Week in Review

First drives of Ford's last local products; BMW plans supercar-beating hybrid; Struggling local manufacturers get more bad news

Product placement

PURE coincidence, or a clever case of marketing on Ford Australia’s behalf?

Motoring scribes driving the last-ever version of the locally made Falcon sedan and ute, and Territory SUV in northern Victoria early this week were treated to the sight of a pair of development mules for the locally designed and developed (but Thai-built, once it goes into production) Ford Everest seven-seat SUV.

Despite meeting face-to-face with the mildly facelifted Aussie SUV, Ford Australia is not flagging the Everest as a Territory replacement – that job is squarely on the shoulders of the Ford Edge after Detroit cast doubts on adding a steering wheel to the right-hand side of its all-new Explorer after it was launched Stateside at the recent LA motor show.

Anyway, we’re told Ford insiders had no idea the Everest mules would be anywhere near the Falcon/Territory drive route. Timing, as in comedy, is everything.

Green hell

BMW has laid out plans to develop a supercar-beating drivetrain producing a monstrous 500kW and a bitumen-peeling 1000Nm – all wrapped around a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

Unveiled beneath the skin of a 5 Series GT late this week for the company’s annual Tech Day, where the German luxury car brand hints at what’s around the corner, the petrol engine drives the front wheels as well as helping to juice up batteries connected to front- and rear-mounted electric motors.

Before you start screaming “2 Series Active Tourer” in disgust, BMW says the concept hybrid is rear-drive under most real-world scenarios, with the front motor and engine kicking in only when needed to provide all-paw grip. The set-up also means the hybrid drivetrain can run on electricity alone for up to 100km – well within the average everyday commute.

The cutting-edge drivetrain has also been tipped as an under-bonnet replacement for Rolls-Royce’s traditional V12.

Didn’t make it

STRUGGLING parts makers received a kick in the teeth this week.

A review of the federal government’s decision to pull $500 million out of a support package set up to help wean them off Australia’s doomed car industry reckons that ripping off the Band-Aid is the best thing for everyone.

The $500 million is money that was earmarked to help car parts makers find something else to supplement their living beyond 2017 – the year that Toyota and Holden shutter their local production lines (Ford is switching off the lights a year earlier).

Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party representative Ricky Muir, although not part of the review, joined former federal industry minister Kim Carr in calling for the money to stay in place until 2020 – the previous end date of the Automotive Transformation Scheme, as the multi-billion dollar package is formally known.

Without it, Senators Muir and Carr warned, car parts makers could fall over financially, forcing the car makers to close up shop earlier than planned.

Toyota rolling out more in-car safety

TOYOTA will deliver more driver safety aids to domestic buyers from next year, the Japanese car maker says, with other markets worldwide – potentially Australia – joining the party from 2017.

Rather than breaking new ground, the tech-fest is limited to a host of already-seen bits and bobs such as autonomous emergency braking, which hopefully gains a makeover to improve it, beeps that alert you if the car strays out of its lane, and radar cruise control. However, one piece of tech is the “invisible” car, which gives the driver a digitally enhanced view while reversing, somewhat akin to sitting in Wonder Woman’s plane.

Wheels contacted Toyota Australia to ask which models were likely to upgrade to the new safety systems, and when, but the only information the car maker was willing to share was that when it did arrive, it would extend beyond just the tech-heavy Prius range.

One thing is for certain: it won’t appear on the heavily facelifted Camry due on sale next year, which will miss out on significant safety upgrades that will be fitted to US versions of Australia’s best-selling mid-sizer. By the time Toyota’s tech-fest does arrive, it will be too late for the locally made Camry, with local production of the car due in the knacker’s yard by late 2017 – we’ll have to wait for the fully imported one.