The last time TomTom made a major upgrade to its range of stand-alone satnav devices was with the introduction of the GO 1000 LIVE nearly two years ago. In that time the free satnav apps installed many smartphones have taken a big chunk out of the market with TomTom now making more money from licensing its map data to the likes of Apple and BlackBerry and from selling navigation apps on iOS than from the sales of dedicated devices. Just as well then that the GO 500 heralds in a change in physical appearance and a redesigned menu system with some new interactive features.
Even five years ago the answer to that question would have been "not very much". Maybe an entry level Korean hatchback like the Hyundai Atoz or a ghastly Perodua - something tiny, tinny, wretched and altogether hopeless. Times have changed though with the likes of Hyundai, Kia and Skoda abandoning the super-budget market as their cars have improved and their corporate ambitions have expanded.
The electric car has failed, right? Err, no. In the USA Tesla’s Model S is selling faster than hot cakes while in the UK the Nissan Leaf has finally become affordable thanks to production moving from Japan to Sunderland and the introduction of a battery lease scheme. Now Renault has launched it’s first serious mass-market electric car called the Zoe and it’s on sale in the UK now.
Subaru BRZ has recently won the Wheels Car of the Year award, a symbol of the widespread praise this car has been earning in the Australian market. But is such recognition deserved? And why has the BRZ bagged its second award Down Under, also having been named previously News Limited Car of the Year 2012? We believe that a big part of the BRZ’s success comes from its boldness and innovative approach. And these elements alone, in an automotive industry which at times risks repetition and safe solutions, are to be welcomed positively.
Only the most rabid electric car fan would argue that the current state of battery technology and the absence of a national recharging infrastructure isn’t a major impediment to the widespread uptake of electric motoring. On paper the new Vauxhall Ampera has the perfect answer to the problem by providing medium range zero-emission electric motoring and long range petrol engine flexibility in the same vehicle.
When it comes to hybrids like the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight it’s tough not to get hung up on the conclusion that they only exist because Americans refuse to buy diesels. After all a modern turbo-diesel is a cheaper and more efficient way of getting the most from a gallon of juice than Toyota’s clever but complex Hybrid Synergy Drive. Don’t get me wrong, plug-in hybrids like Vauxhall’s Ampera and Toyota’s forthcoming Plug-In Prius which allow you to move twixt A and B using electricity generated someplace else, ideally by a wind turbine, are great, but the traditional hybrid? I’ve yet be convinced. Toyota’s new Yaris Hybrid may change that though.