On Horrid Screens and Expensive Appliances

A while ago, I wrote a blog – actually more of a rant – about the state of Mercedes’ instrument cluster screens and how utterly terrible they look. (https://michaeldekock.com/2020/09/21/mercedes-tablets-for-everyone/) Then BMW came out with their new iX electric SUV that featured Munich’s version of those awful screens. Now, the current 3-Series is getting its LCI (‘Life Cycle Impulse’), BMW’s fancy way of saying mid-life update) and it looks like it will also have the terrible-looking screens. In the camouflaged photo, it’s covered by a piece of fabric, but it seems inevitable.

What the fudge is wrong with the traditional instrument binnacle?! Audi has done a brilliant job with their Virtual Cockpit system, so why not just do the same thing? But no, everything must look like someone stuck an old, thick-bezeled tablet on the other side of the steering-wheel and went to lunch. It’s stupid and unacceptable.

The same is happening with Hyundai nowadays. The new Tucson and Santa Cruz have this ugly, flat and weirdly angled instrument screen behind the steering-wheel. The rest of the interior looks great, but the screen just ruins it and makes it look cheap. And what boggles my mind about the whole thing is that this fugly thing is the part of the interior where the driver will look the most! I’d get distracted by how ugly it is. Honestly, those screens are the only reason I don’t like 90% of the current Mercedes range. I sat in a new G-Class and it almost works as the screens are more integrated into the dash, but it’s still pushing it. I’d rather save my money and get a previous-gen C63 with the brilliant M156 V8 and proper analogue dials.

The only car company that gets away with having tablets as instrument cluster screens is Tesla, as they started it and their cars still look the best with it. The Models 3 and Y’s interior are the most boring of anything currently in the car industry, but they do screens well. I’d still rather have a Model S or X, even though they are ridiculously expensive.

It is fair to note that whilst I rant on and on and on about the state of Mercedes’s screens, they are the company who will sell the Hyperscreen in the new EQS electric saloon. Their current screens are crap, but this new Hyperscreen – Oh, boy, is it pretty! It is a single piece stretching from the driver’s instrument cluster to a screen for the front passenger, with a massive bit in the middle. It’s fantastic! It still seems to have the weird, rounded Mercedes UI buttons/information boxes, but it showcases a properly futuristic design. I can only imagine how cool it will be in an EQGLS, or EQSL, or (hopefully one day soon) an EQSLS. Imagine an actual, viable (and cheaper) version of the SLS Electric Drive, the grand-daddy of the electric supercar.

On to another issue…

A company recently imported a Model X P100D into South Africa and it cost them R3.8 million with the cost of the car and various customs taxes, including a 15% EV tax that South Africa has. EV tax?! European countries give you a DISCOUNT when buying an electric car because you are SAVING the planet! South Africa on the other hand, TAXES the SHIT out of you for buying an electric car just because… Because we apparently can. It’s ridiculous!

If we as South Africans are going to embrace the future of motoring in the form of electric cars, they will need to be cheaper. Heck, we haven’t even embraced the hybrid yet! The Prius is being shunned in favour of the Hilux, Land Cruisers and RAVs whilst Lexus has pretty-much given up on selling their hybrid models here. Now automakers expects boers to trade in their rugged and hard-working bakkies for a Jaguar I-Pace or a Porsche Taycan for two, three or maybe even four times the price of said bakkie?

Good effing luck with that.

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©2021 Michael De Kock 

Michael de Kock is a Psychology graduate, busy doing a National Certificate in Motor Mechanics to get more skilled, because he struggles to get a job in this day and age. Can you believe that? Utterly ridiculous…

Jaguar Electricity as Expensive as Their Electric Car

So, MyBroadBand has recently done a cross-country road trip with the Jaguar I-Pace (see link below) to see what it actually costs to run an electric car for such a long journey. They started at Jaguar-Land Rover in Constantiaberg which has the southernmost charging point in the country, and ended in Musina – the northernmost town.

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Long story short, it took them 22 hours to drive at an average of 92kph plus another 12 hours for charging, equating to a total of 34 hours to do the 2,063km. That is a long time. It’s like sitting on an 18 hour flight and finding out you have a 10 hour stop-over before flying another 4-and-a-half hours back home. (It happened to me.)

The trip cost the MyBroadBand team almost R2600 in just electricity alone. The team concluded that if they did the same trip in a diesel F-Pace, it would have been significantly cheaper which begs the question, are electric cars viable in South Africa, a county that hasn’t even embraced the idea of the hybrid yet? Lexus has tried for years to get South Africans to buy hybrids, but we just don’t. I don’t know exactly why, but I think it is because we simply see it as something too expensive with too much that can go wrong. Given the choice between a Jaguar I-Pace or a fully kitted-out Toyota Land Cruiser 200, the average South African would pick the Toyota because it’s higher up in the local motoring hierarchy.

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In terms of the motor-industry, South Africa is way behind. Norway’s government grants financial incentives to people for buying electric cars which has resulted in two-thirds of all new cars being bought by the Vikings being electric. There are so many electric cars in Norway that the government is considering adding taxes on them so that they can get at least some money back. Other European countries also offer incentives on electric cars. Even Jordan – which is a Middle-Eastern country – offers much less tax on hybrids than they do on normal cars and as a result 80% of the cars you see there are hybrids.

South Africa doesn’t offer any of this, so electric cars are stupidly expensive. The I-Pace costs R1.6m. For that price you could buy a Volvo XC90 T8 which has the same power, is vastly more practical and has a ridiculous range, thanks to its hybrid drivetrain. Plus you’ll still have R200k left over. Or you could buy a Toyota GR Supra. Or an F-Type V6 S. Or a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. For a little bit more you could get a diesel BMW 8-Series! Or, if you stretch it a bit more, you can buy a Land Rover Sport P400e, which does 4L/100km.

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There are so many better cars to choose from. And those are if you want yours new. For R1.6m you can almost buy whatever you want in the second-hand market. For instance, a quick search on Cars.co.za revealed a 2019 BMW M5 for the same price as that Jag. And also a 2018 Merc E63S! And if you go slightly older, you can get a 2014 Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Or a 2003 Ferrari 360 F1 Spider. Or a 2010 Bentley Continental GTC Speed.

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There are so many better and more interesting cars to buy other than that specific Jaguar. And some of them will even let you pay less at fuel stations. Plus you don’t have to hang around for hours wondering what to do with yourself whilst your batteries fill up with the imaginary magic juice…

 

Read about MyBroadBand’s cross-country road trip in the Jaguar I-Pace here: https://mybroadband.co.za/news/motoring/362430-what-it-costs-to-drive-across-south-africa-in-an-electric-car.html

 

©2020 Michael De Kock

 

Michael de Kock is a recently graduated job-seeking nerdy petrolhead, fascinated with avocados and generally quite tall.

The Future of Motoring

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As we all know, the futuristic vision of motoring normally shows adventurous, spontaneous and all out happy people driving the electric equivalent of a Lada Niva, i.e. a Nissan Leaf, that silly little Peugeot thing and the G-Wizz . I personally think that is not the future for motoring enthusiasts. Well, if it were, then all motoring enthusiasts would say, “Bugger this!”, jump off a cliff and scream “YOLO!!!”

I think the company which has the correct idea for the future car is Fisker, especially with the Karma. They haven’t got it 100% right, but they’re onto something. The idea of having an electric motor as the main propulsion component is excellent. The way the Fisker works (if I got this right and I think I do) is with an electric motor at the rear axle, a bunch of batteries in the middle and a 2.0L turbo at the front. You plug it in your wall socket and it charges just like a phone. Easy. Or, you don’t even have to plug it in. You can just put petrol in it, but the engine doesn’t power the wheels. Instead, the engine charges the batteries, which in turn power the wheels. It is a brilliant system (apart from all the trouble Fisker has with the suppliers, fires and technical difficulties).

There is only one problem. When, not if, all the oil runs out, you’ll be stuck with this heavy lump of unused metal under the bonnet formerly called an ‘engine’. Then one day you can tell your grandchildren about this thing that used to power your car that also made this (sometimes) beautiful, intoxicating sound – not what granny drives now that makes this digital noise to keep her from falling asleep. I’ve gone completely off topic now…

Ummmm… oh yes, the ‘engine’. If you replace the ‘engine’ in the Fisker to, let’s say, a hydrogen fuel cell in the Honda FCX Clarity, then it can work as normal. People will go to a ‘HydroStation’ instead of a ‘Petrol Station’ and the world can continue as if nothing ever happened (well not really, but you get my point). I mean, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. When we run out of hydrogen, then someone else can just copy and paste this blog and correct the vehicles and technologies of their time. Off topic again…

The best things about electric cars are the specs. All the power and all the torque are there from the second you ‘start’ the electric motor until the second you ‘turn it off’. It is awesome! I can only imagine driving something like the Mercedes-Benz SLS ElectricDrive around the Nürburgring. Or even a hyper-hybrid (just thought that word up) like the Porsche 918 Spyder, or the Ferrari with the stupid name, or the McLaren P1 (a company which should really revise their naming strategy).

Then you get to the bad things. The worst thing about them is that they will wipe out the manual gearbox. I can’t imagine a world without the manual car. I see it as a horrible, miserable place where gearshift hands and left legs are the most bored body parts the universe will ever see. Another thing is the range. And the sound. And the looks (Nissan Leaf). And the irritating fact that you bought an electric car!!!

 

Michael De Kock is (obviously) a car enthusiast, avid reader and movie lover who have the goal to know (at least) a little bit about (almost) everything.