2020

HOW FAR HAVE WE COME? WE SCORE FIVE CORE TECH­NOLO­GIES TO AS­SESS IF AU­TO­MO­TIVE AD­VANCES RE­ALLY ARE CHANG­ING THE WORLD

Wheels (Australia) - - CONTENTS - WORDS ANDY EN­RIGHT

At the turn of a new decade, have we hit our au­to­mo­tive tar­gets?

BACK IN March 1976, a story by Tony Cur­tis – no, not that one – ap­peared in Wheels. ‘In The Year 2025’ was a bit of a de­press­ing read, to be hon­est. In­spired by Or­well’s 1984, the au­thor told a tale of all pri­vate mo­tor ve­hi­cles be­ing banned by the over­ar­ch­ing hand of the state by 1985. Swing and a miss there.

Yet glance through the 1976 is­sue and some things are all too fa­mil­iar. There are Corol­las, Pas­sats, 911s, Civics, LandCruis­ers and Lancers. A dis­grun­tled reader wrote a let­ter com­plain­ing that mod­ern cars lacked char­ac­ter, while a Fiat came last in a group test.

A cou­ple of months later, how­ever, Wheels ran a re­port on ADR27A, the first anti-pol­lu­tion reg­u­la­tions on Aus­tralian cars, not­ing that “it’s be­come crit­i­cally im­por­tant that some­thing must be done to at least min­imise any fur­ther in­crease in air pol­lu­tion”. Cars like the Fiat 130 and Re­nault’s 15 and 17 coupes faced the chop for be­ing un­able to com­ply with these re­stric­tions on hy­dro­car­bons, car­bon monox­ide and ni­trous ox­ides.

That noble as­pi­ra­tion seems a long way dis­tant. In a re­cent anal­y­sis by Trans­port En­ergy/Emis­sion Re­search (TER), writ­ten by Pro­fes­sor Robin Smit, it be­came clear that Aus­tralia looked likely to be­come a dump­ing ground for the world’s dirt­i­est en­gines. “There is no in­cen­tive for the car com­pa­nies to sell lower-emit­ting ve­hi­cles here. At the mo­ment the man­u­fac­tur­ers are al­lowed to sell any­thing they like with lit­tle re­stric­tions,” Smit said. So are we where we thought we’d be at the turn of this new decade? We take a look at some of the ma­jor pil­lars of progress and mark the cards.

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