Overdrive Podcast Radio Program Week 11 – 2022

Overdrive: Women’s car of the year award – is it more up-to-date?: Audi S3 and a trip to Tasmania

Hello and welcome to Overdrive a program that ponders the purpose of cars and transport. I’m David Brown

The times each story appears in the program are noted (mm:ss)

News (1:30)

  1. Women’s world car of the year
  2. Fuel prices
  3. Oil as a political weapon
  4. Fuel security

Feature Story (7:48)

  • We have just driven the new Audi S3 hot sedan and Sportback around Tasmania but there is an embargo to talking about the drive experience. We will cover that in a few weeks’ time.
  • But we did speak to some executives from Audi about sustainability, the issues that people are considering in a vehicle purchase and some of the features of the S3 (7:48)
  • We also talk about just how enjoyable Tasmania is to drive around and some of the people we met. (15:48)

Motoring Minutes

Quirky News (21:41)

And Brian Smith and I discuss a quirky news story that is not humous and is really more than quirky, it is an astounding aspect of a car maker programming in to its trial of autonomous function the ability to break the law.

Women’s World Car of the Year

The Peugeot 308 has been declared the overall winner of the Women’s World Car of the Year. It is categorised in Australia as a small passenger sedan in the same class as a Toyota Corolla.

There has been some criticism of the award that had six finalists, three of which were electric vehicles, which we have said is a good progressive reflection, but they were all expensive models.

The latest model 308 which will be released in Australia in the second quarter of this year, has a small engine, 1.2 litre 3 cylinders, and will come with hybrid options and later a full-electric model in 2023.

Linda Jackson, CEO of the Peugeot brand, said that the vehicle represents an important part of the market: “because it covers a large part of the millions of potential users in the countries represented by the Women’s World Car of the Year jurors whatever their needs, habits, means, and aspirations.”

Of course, while you might expect this sort of comment from the top representative of an organisation there is an important trend that needs to be recognise.  Motoring awards have traditionally come out of the car performance side of the media which has been dominated by male writers.

While this award was judged by women, Peugeot quite rightly makes the important point that this is not picking cars for just women.

A person’s vehicle is progressively being reported more as a device for fitting in with a broad range of personal needs and community issues rather than just the decadent joy of motoring.

Fuel prices

The war in Ukraine has said to be a major component in the rising price of fuel. This is a particularly hot topic in politically dominated environments such as the United States.

The US is the world’s leading producer of oil at a rate of nearly 11.5 million barrels per day (this produces approx. 230 million litres of fuel per day) and the production rate has been increasing and is predicted to continue to do so.

In recent years Saudi Arabia has moved ahead of Russia into second place.

Russia depends heavily on exports of oil mainly to Europe, China and Asia. Very little is exported to America. About 1% of America’s imported oil has come from Russia.

Given that some major oil companies have been making record profits there have been suggestions that there might be some price gouging.

Price gouging is defined as the practice of raising the price of goods, services, or commodities, to an unreasonable or unfair level. Such an increase in price is often a result of a sudden increase of demand and shortage of goods, such as in the event of a natural disaster or other crisis, and it is illegal in most jurisdictions.

Given that Russia accounts for about 12% of total world production, even if they don’t export much of this to the US, the price of fuel will be significantly affected if Russia’s export production is decreased.

Oil as a political weapon

The surge in oil prices highlights what became known as “oil as a political weapon” after the 1973 oil crisis.

Russia depends heavily on exports of oil and will be greatly impacted if this sort of trade is significantly curtailed.

The 1973 crisis was precipitated by Arab states in the form of an embargo and production cutbacks. Production was eventually cut by 25%.

It was aimed at first-world countries such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan in an effort to make them move to a more pro-Arab position and less supportive of Israel.

It was not successful from a foreign policy perspective.

There were some impacts on car design but sustainable transport was an issue whose time had yet to fully come.

In Australia, Holden designed the first Commodore which was a reduction in size from the typical family car of the period. It struggled in sales and subsequent models grew in size again.

Fuel security

The Ukrainian war has awakened Australia to an issue that we should have been addressing more thoroughly for some time.

We are in a very weak position in terms of fuel security: we import the great majority of our oil and while there are a few refineries, it is anticipated that they will all be closed by 2030. Our storage capacity is very small and storage alone is not the answer.

Nearly four years ago, in May 2018, obviously, before COVID and the latest political upheavals, the independent media outlet, The Conversation ran an article under the heading “Australia’s fuel stockpile is perilously low, and it may be too late for a refill”.

More recently the Federal Government claimed to be addressing the problem with a published report “Australia’s Future Fuel Strategy”. It failed to address the need for alternative fuels.

It stated that:

“The government’s long-term fuel security goal is to increase our domestic storage and to hold a sovereign refining capability that meets our needs during an emergency, as well as into the future. We will secure our local industry’s capabilities, while keeping fuel prices in Australia among the lowest in the OECD”.

Soon after came announcements that our refineries will close sooner rather than later making a mockery of the concept of Australia having a “sovereign refining capability”.

The great benefit of alternative fuel sources such as electricity and hydrogen power are that they can be produced locally and do not need to be focused in a limited number of locations. Even if some lack a desire to pursue pollution reduction out of a concern for global warming there should still be strong

 

You can find more information at Driven Media or previous programs are available as podcasts on iTunes or Spotify. OR our Facebook site OverdriveCity

Originally broadcast 12 March 2022  across Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) and Torque Radio affiliated commercial radio channels and has a weekly audience of over 450,000.

About David Brown 580 Articles
David’s boyhood passion for motor cars did not immediately lead to a professional role in the motor industry. A qualified Civil Engineer he specialised in traffic engineering and transport planning. What followed were various positions including being seconded to a government think-tank for the planning of transport firstly in Sydney and then for the whole of NSW. After working with the NRMA and as a consultant he moved to being an independent writer and commentator on the broader areas of transport and the more specific areas of the cars we drive. His half hour motoring program “Overdrive” has been described as an “informed, humorous and irreverent look at motoring and transport from Australia and overseas”. It is heard on 22 stations across Australia. He does weekly interviews with several ABC radio stations and is also heard on commercial radio in Sydney. David has written for metropolitan and regional newspapers and has presented regular segments on metropolitan and regional television stations. David is also a contributor for AnyAuto