17 January 2020

Toyota chief predicts car market trends for 2020

Toyota Corolla hybrid saloon

Never in the history of the automobile have motorists had a greater choice in terms of the powertrains available to them, writes Trish Whelan.

These options range from diesel, petrol, battery powered electric vehicles (BEVs), self-charging hybrids (HEVs), mild hybrids, and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) so there’s a lot for a potential buyer to think about.

Toyota, the world’s biggest car brand, has made a number of big decisions over the past 18 months to prepare for the trends in the decade ahead. They claim they already deliver the lowest C02 output of any car brand in Ireland with their average C02 output across the range in Ireland 17pc lower than the top 10 best-selling car brands. 

Steve Tormey, CEO of Toyota Ireland, believes that hybrid is the best option for the vast majority of Irish drivers looking for an electrified drive.

Corolla hybrid saloon
Toyota made the decision to invest in hybrid technology over 20 years ago as a key principle of its contribution towards sustainable development, and in recent years stopped providing diesel options in their cars in favour of more environmentally friendly options.

Here, 2019 saw a hybrid becoming Ireland’s best-selling car (Corolla Hybrid) and the new Toyota hybrids sold last year alone will result in the reduction of 60,000 tonnes of C02 from our environment over the course of their lifetime.

The company’s latest generation hybrids drive in zero emissions mode for 62pc of the time on average during daily commuting conditions. They expect that market share for self-charging full hybrids will hit 12pc to 14pc in 2020. 

Steve Tormey says other reasons to choose hybrid over other power trains include a higher resale value than diesels, relatively lower pricing compared to pure EVs and Plug-in hybrids, 30pc lower maintenance costs than combustion powered cars, up to 30pc better fuel economy than petrols cars, and up to 11pc better than diesel cars. 

Contrary to many other car distributors who are continuing to provide diesel power trains, he says ‘it is absolutely time to say goodbye to diesel in cars for the majority of Irish consumers’. “Diesels produce up to 90pc more NOX than hybrids and this fact was the driving force behind our decision to cease the sale of diesel cars in 2018. You also have to question the future resale value of diesels as more punitive NOX taxes are introduced in future Government budgets.”

Toyota Ireland predicts that diesel sales will continue their downward trajectory and will likely be 35pc of the overall market in 2020, down from 46pc in 2019 and 71pc in 2015. They believe that the proposition around petrol in mid to large cars is fast diminishing due to the rising price of petrol, future WLTP driven tax hikes that will penalise bigger petrol engines and the high C02 levels emitted. 

For this reason, Toyota decided last year to cease the sale of Corolla and Toyota C-HR petrol models from 2020, meaning that 90pc of their passenger vehicle sales this year will be self-charging hybrid. The only petrol cars they will sell this year are the 1.0 Yaris and Aygo. 

Toyota see petrol sales declining to 35pc this year with these customers moving into hybrid and EVs rather than back into diesel. 

16 January 2020

BMW to expand its electric hybrid models


BMW Group is expanding its electric hybrid offering with the new BMW X1 xDrive 25e and X2 xDrive e25e offerings, writes Trish Whelan.

With the very latest high-voltage battery cell technology, both offer an electrically powered range of between 54 and 57kms, extending the capabilities of locally emissions-free driving both in the city and beyond.

With average fuel consumption of 2.1 to 1.9 L/100kms, and C02 emissions of between 48 and 43g/km for the X1 xDrive25e. 

BMW say the hybrid specific all-wheel drive system delivers fast and precise distribution of power between the front and rear wheels, ensuring a high level of driving agility. 

Peak torque comes in at 385Nm, 0-100km/h time is 6.9 secs, top speed is 192km/h.

The plug-in system hybrid system consists of a 1.5, 125hp 3-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower turbo technology and an electric drive specially developed for this model. It is matched to a 6-speed Steptronic transmission. Combined combustion engine and electric motor output is 220hp. 

The battery can be charged at conventional household sockets using the standard equipment charging cable. It can be charged from empty in around five hours. Reaching 80pc of its total capacity takes 3.8 hours. With a BMW i Wallbox, a full charge takes under 3.2 hours with 80pc reached after 2.4 hours. The charging socket is located under a separate flap on the front left side wall of the car. 

X1 25e prices are from €50,055; pricing of the X2 xDrive25e will follow later this year. 

BMW plans have to have over a million electrified vehicles on the road by the end of next year and to extend their portfolio to 25 electrified vehicles by 2023.

15 January 2020

Kia announces plans to spearhead move to EVs


Kia Motors Corporation will introduce a full line-up of 11 battery electric vehicles by 2025 targeting a 6.6pc slice of the global EV market share, writes Trish Whelan.

The Korean brand has announced details of its ‘Plan S’, its mid- to long-term strategy aimed at progressively establishing a leadership position in the future automotive industry, encompassing electrification and mobility services as well as connectivity and autonomy. The Plan S details were announced to shareholders, analysts and credit-rating agencies at the company’s CEO Investor day in Seoul today.

The Plan S strategy outlines Kia’s preemptive ‘shift’ from focusing on internal combustion engine cars towards one centred on electric vehicles and customised mobility solutions. Kia will concentrate on leading the popularisation of electric vehicles, and expand mobility services for electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as entering the Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) market and will launch a dedicated electric vehicle model in 2021. 

The brand aims for 500,000 annual EV sales and global sales of one million vehicles (excluding China). 

The company will invest a total of 29 trillion won (US $25 billion) by the end of 2025 to establish leadership in vehicle electrification and diversify its business.



10 January 2020

MINI Sidewalk Convertible available to order


MINI Ireland is introducing a special edition Convertible model, the MINI Sidewalk Convertible, writes Trish Whelan.

The high-spec model is a limited edition with just 150 available for UK and Irish customers.

This special edition features new Deep Laguna metallic body paint, unique seat and soft top roof designs, Harmon Kardon Hi-Fi and Head-Up Display as standard.

The convertible is supplied exclusively with a 192hp Cooper S powertrain featuring MINI TwinPower Turbo technology and a 7-speed Steptronic transmission with double clutch and steering wheel paddles, enabling fast and smooth gear shifts.

Combined fuel consumption is 6.7-5.51 L/100kms, C02 emissions are 152-125g/km.

The Arrow design soft top roof can be opened or closed electronically in 18 seconds. The car also has new 17-inch light-alloy Scissor Spoke 2-tone wheels, a new seat design with special seat badging and contrasting seams in Petrol and Energetic Yellow colours. The new dashboard facia is Piano Black with accents in Petrol and Silver.

The Sidewalk Convertible comes with a range of technologies as standard including the Navigation Plus Pack featuring an 8.8-inch touch screen display, Satellite Navigation, Wireless Charging and Amazon Alexa functionality and three driving modes. A wind deflector is also included.

The MINI Sidewalk Convertible is available to order now from €47,840 at Irish MINI retailers, with production starting from March. 



9 January 2020

New VW Passat GTE has longer range


The new Volkswagen Passat GTE has gone on sale starting from €42,495 for private customers, writes Trish Whelan. 

Volkswagen say it ‘merges the benefits of electric mobility with the qualities of a long-distance vehicle'. 

The car uses a combination of a 156hp 1.4 TSI petrol engine with a 115hp electric motor to offer a combined 218hp and 440 Nm of torque with combined C02 emissions of 29g/km.

The car’s 13kW battery now has 31pc more capacity than the previous model allowing a fully electric, emission-free range of up to 56km (measured under WLTP) when driving in electric mode and offers the long-range benefits of a plug-in hybrid.

Private customers can avail of Government incentives of €7,500 (€5,000 SEAI grant and €2,500 VRT rebate), which brings the price of this saloon to €42,495 and the estate model to €44,595. 

Volkswagen’s Head of Marketing Mark McGrath said 'the price is comparable to a 2.0 TDI DSG diesel Passat making it a viable alternative to anyone wanting to move to an electrified vehicle in 2020'.