driving Politics and activism

Bloody car

My bloody car is still playing up, despite a service the other week that included an astronomically expensive ultrasound on the fuel injection! Given that that was prompted by reporting the same fault it’s still suffering, what are my statutory rights here?

Anyway it’s been at the service place since last night (so they can experience the thrill and excitement of its early-morning shudders), so I’m discovering how life is without a car. Not terrible, so far, just more time required for getting about.

Speaking of bloody cars, the Feds are about to give Ford Australia $50 million to support local operations. But wait a sec… they’re giving it to them to pay for work on new model Territory (four-wheel-drive) and Falcon (big sedan), two of their most inefficient vehicles. Where’s the logic in that, given that now even the International Energy Agency says oil could hit US$100 per barrel?

But then, despite calls to reform taxes to discourage pollution, I wouldn’t be betting on anything so logical just yet.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

7 replies on “Bloody car”

Have they replaced the spark plug leads yet? I assume they have, because it’s simple and certainly something to check before pulling out the injectors.

But if they haven’t, make sure they do!

If Ford takes that money and doesn’t come up with a vehicle containing electronic stability control, a full set of airbags and a diesel engine then it should be ashamed of itself.

Take the car back and insist that they fix the problem. That’s what I do. If it’s something that can only be “shown” and not described to them, take a mechanic for a ride around the block until it happens.

And yeah, the government doesn’t really care about conserving fuel – they make too much money off the taxes on it, thus they’ll promote the biggest gas guzzlers on Australian roads.

When I was looking into leasing a car through work, Govt rules were it had to be Australian built. Did you know we only build BIG cars here? Commodore, Falcon, Magna, 380, Camry and the like. What a silly rule.
I drive – a lot – to work and home again daily. I want something that’s going to be low in fuel consumption. None of these cars fit my bill. The Camry was the only one I looked at in the end, as it was the most efficient of the lot.

It’s worse than that Rae, though you probably know already. Once you’ve got a leased car through work you need to EXCEED a certain number of kilometres per year in order to avoid an increased rate of fringe benefits tax. So the scheme encourages more fuel use. I do not know if a yearly public transport ticket can be obtained exempt from FBT in a similar way, but I bet it can’t.

It may be some policy thing about ‘supporting the Australian car industry’ that dictates the purchase of Australian-built cars for leases, but the reason might also that you needed to get a preferential price for the car. Holden, for example, will give a massive discount on an Australian built car like a Commodore (well, exactly a Commodore because none of their other model ranges are made here) when leasing it to governments and some other companies, but won’t give that discount on an Astra or a Vectra.

I don’t think the tax rules specify an Australian car because I would have been able to lease my Renault and still get the tax advantage. But I wasn’t prepared to try to drive 25,000 km a year just to save tax, when it would have been a waste of resources.

While I take your point about the Falcon and Territory not being overly fuel efficient, the unavoidable problem is that the Australian car industry only builds big cars.

The reason is fairly simple – plenty of other countries build small cars, and they can do it better and cheaper than we can. So we stopped building small cars in the 1990s and concentrated on what we were good at – big cars. Seeing as we are one of the few countries that builds big cars at mass market prices (as opposed to big cars with Merc pricetags), this gave us something to export. So far, so good.

The problem is that our big cars, while quite fuel efficient for their size, obviously use more fuel than small cars. And in these times of high fuel prices, it’s the big Aussie car that is feeling the pain.

If, as many predict, oil only gets more expensive from here and thus there is an even bigger swing to small cars, then the Australian car industry has pretty well had it.

I guess the stark choice is this: we can all get ourselves into smaller cars, or we can have an Australian car industry.

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