Charge of the Kombi, buzz of the fans
Thanks for the Detroit coverage. I see Volkswagen has at last woken up to the retro scene with the Buzz after that pathetic attempt with the New Beetle. The new Kombi is a ripper in its shape, just the right combination of original and new. Only problem is, being electric, it’s useless for Oz. It should be petrol and/or diesel and then there would be a queue at the showrooms, me for one. Tony, email
The first comeback Beetle was badly flawed because its body was dropped over the Golf platform but the secondgeneration car was much better. The Kombi needs to be electric as Volkswagen battles to overcome the worldwide fallout from the Diesel-gate scandal.
Re the BMW i3. I thought it a good primer for the general public on the future of electric vehicles but I was extremely surprised that there was not a single word on the battery-electric vehicle that most people are likely to see on our roads already. It’s the Tesla, obviously. Are you saving this up for a future article once the Model X arrives here? I’m not a Tesla owner yet, although I am on the waiting list for a Model 3. Graham Hardy, email
We’ve written many times about Tesla but it’s still a very costly car in the luxury class. To get traction in Australia, electric cars need to be an affordable alternative to existing petrol-powered runabouts.
CARP ON DIOXIDE
Re the i3. You say coal-fired power stations are the bad guys but you appear to be well behind the current science which shows that CO2 is not the major driver of climate change as there has been no increase in temperature for 18 years despite the rapid rise in atmospheric CO2. In any case, going green by making electric cars could be counter-productive. There is the cost of making them in countries that do not have the same standards as Australia, then you have to ship them here and, when the batteries have had their day, disposing of them poses enormous environmental hazards. Any puny effect by humanity to reduce its carbon footprint is more than offset by nature. There are up to 62,000 bushfires a year in Australia and worldwide there are over 20,000 fires — from all sources — burning at any given time. There are up to 80 volcanic eruptions every year. When Krakatoa erupted in 1883 it put so much particulate in the atmosphere that it lowered temperatures around the globe for more than a year. It will cost tens of billions to address climate change for virtually no return on investment. Renewables are not suitable for base-load power. Alan Barron, email
Really? I expect a flood of responses from Carsguide readers who don’t agree.
Re the dashcam being disabled at a dealership. This happened to me in a Toyota dealership in north Queensland on holidays. I only discovered it was not working the next day, too far away to complain, and thought it had just died and so bought a replacement. Then, when I got back to Melbourne, I found the SD card was not recording but a new card worked. Also, my last recording was when driving into the dealership. Bob Mayes, email
I’ll check on the legality, from both sides, of a dashcam running in a dealership. But if they don’t tell you they’re disabling it, that’s a problem.
NO POWER, NO SHIFT
I am writing out of frustration with my Ford Focus Sport. The Powershfit transmission has failed on three occasions. The last time was very dangerous as I had the whole family in the car driving home. The car had only just had a fresh set of clutches installed. I have now had the clutches replaced on six occasions — surely this can’t continue? Is there no reason why Ford Australia can’t instruct the dealer to actually replace the transmission? I have not had any satisfaction with the dealer or Ford Australia and can’t even sell my car as I would have an obligation to advise the new owner of the defects. Carl Foti, email
I have pushed hard with Ford Australia. Customer service boss Steve Kruk replies: “We are going to offer a ‘like-for like’ exchange for Mr Foti for only a $4000 customer contribution. Given the age of his vehicle we think this is a great offer for as we are significantly discounting the vehicle and pumping up his trade value (to compensate) for his inconvenience.”
With a technical background in aircraft engines and fuel systems, I am continually amused by motorists who fill up only when their petrol gauge gets close to empty. At pilot seminars, aero club events, air-shows etc, I always included fuel management in my presentations. With respect to fuel quality and storage, all fuels — avgas, automotive petrol and turbine fuel — accumulate minute amounts of water. An accumulation of water in your petrol tank or at your favourite servo’s storage tanks is not normally an issue as it will settle slowly to the bottom of the tank. But the lower your fuel level when you refill, the greater risk you have of stirring up water and foreign particles in your tank. Also, to reduce the chance of getting contaminated petrol from the servo, refrain from filling when there is a delivery tanker there, stirring up what is in the underground tanks.
Les Lyons, email
A good suggestion, given the number of readers complaining recently about poor fuel quality.
LOCK IT IN
Re lost keys for a 2004 Corolla, it is not essential to go to the dealer. Most people seem to be convinced by the dealers that only they can provide this service, which is not entirely true. Most reputable locksmiths can clone additional transponder keys for most of the popular brands. However, if all keys are lost there are many specialist automotive locksmiths in the capitals and some regional areas who can help. Among them is Ultimate Locksmiths in Sydney on 0400 060 001, which is run by a fellow who completed his apprenticeship with a company I was employed by. He and his staff are masters in this field and could do the job for considerably less than the dealer, using parts that are completely compatible with the genuine thing. Colin Sneesby, email Thanks for the tip and I’ll keep the details on file for other key-loss victims.
PULL THE PARK BRAKE
I drive an Audi A3 with a push-button parking brake. In years gone by, if I had a failure of the car’s normal braking system I would have had the option of using the mechanical handbrake as a last resort. I would like some information on the operation of the pushbutton park brake, with the P on top, and if could it be operated at some speed. Would it cause damage or could there be unintended consequences?
Robin McKenzie, email Audi spokesman Shaun Cleary replies: “If you pull and hold the P button while the vehicle is moving it will initiate an emergency brake application with the brakes applied hydraulically at all four wheels. To prevent the emergency braking function from being used accidentally, a warning buzzer sounds when the P button is operated. The brakes are released immediately when you release the P button or press the accelerator.”
Audi A3: Use park brake in an emergency