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)
- Women’s world car of the year
- Fuel prices
- Oil as a political weapon
- 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)
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.