Cummins hits a ton

Cummins Inc is celebrating its 100th year as a company throughout 2019 – and that is no mean feat for any business considering the rapidly changing economies in the countries in which it operates.

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However, it goes beyond just bing successful in Dollar terms and in the Africa and Middle East regions, the focus is on building more prosperous communities through a four-pillar strategy that concentrates on Technical Education for Communities, Secondary School Education, Environmental Initiatives, and Integration of People with Disabilities.

In anticipation of its centennial, the company recently launched the Cummins Powers Women programme, which represents Cummins’ commitment to the advancement and prosperity of women and girls around the world and is the next phase of Cummins’ commitment to large-scale community impact.

In Nigeria, for example, Cummins leaders joined forces with Rise Up to use its voice in communities to promote exponential change in the lives of women and girls.

Rise Up’s leadership accelerator programme convenes the top leading civil society organisations, communities, and companies working to advance prospects for women. These groups unite to focus on capacity building, networking, and leadership development, all facilitated by Rise Up.

Cummins today, which is listed as a Fortune 150 company, employs around 60 000 people worldwide, and serves customers in nearly every country across the globe.

Cummins products range from diesel and natural gas engines to hybrid and electric platforms, as well as engine systems components, controls, and related technologies, and it continues to develop new advanced products and services.

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The company’s humble roots date back to 1919 when Clessie Cummins and business partner William Irwin built a company that was one of the first to take advantage of the ground-breaking technology developed by German engineer Rudolf Diesel in the late 1800s.

“Technological innovation is at the heart of what we do,” says Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger.

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“Cummins is a global technology leader with a broad portfolio of power solutions. We will continue to innovate to ensure our customers’ success.”

Cummins will further advance diesel and natural gas engine technology and bring new solutions to market. It is investing in electrified powertrains and developing alternative technologies such as solid oxide and hydrogen fuel cells, and exploring new technologies for future growth.

In addition, the company continues to develop integrated engine system technologies and controls, and is working with partners to integrate its products and services in the autonomous vehicles of the future.

While most independent engine manufacturers no longer exist, Cummins’ leadership credits its longevity to its 100 years of commitment to its mission, vision, and values, staying focused on long-term goals, and standing up for what is right. This commitment has been beneficial to all Cummins’ stakeholders, and will continue to guide decisions for the next 100 years.

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“We understand our company is only as successful as the communities where we operate, and we are committed to building more prosperous communities around the world,” says Mary Chandler, Vice-President of Corporate Responsibility, and CEO of the Cummins Foundation. “Improving our global communities has been a key part of our first 100 years, and will remain a focus for the next century and beyond.

“Our employees lead the way in year-round community problem-solving, making a difference in Cummins’ global priority areas of education, the environment, and equal opportunity for all. Together with our community partners, we look forward to the next 100 years of helping people thrive in their day-to-day lives,” Chandler stresses.

The Cummins Every Employee, Every Community programme promotes employee engagement by ensuring every Cummins employee has the opportunity to contribute at least four hours on company time to his or her community.
“As I reflect on our history and look to the future, I want people to view Cummins as a company that cares about powering a more prosperous world,” Linebarger notes. “How we do it is ultimately just as important as what we do.”

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Sporty Lexus makes its debut

Lexus has boosted the RC range in South Africa with the addition of the top-liner F Sport variant that borrows driving dynamics from the LC coupé along with some tweaks to the design and styling.

The exterior styling features subtle changes in the details, inspired by Lexus LC design cues, while inside the cabin, everything from the high-quality materials to the precise layout of controls and gauges has been crafted to maximise driving pleasure.

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Enhancements have also been made to the RC 350 F Sport’s aerodynamics, tyres and suspension with concomitant improvements to engine response and steering feel, all of which reflect the ‘sharper and more refined’ drive philosophy that was introduced by the LC. This new RC is more stable than ever under a wide variety of driving conditions.

There is a new front bumper design along with a new grille mesh pattern comprising shapes that gradually transform from top to bottom, while the vertical arrangement of the ‘micro’ triple LED headlamps and new L-shaped LED Daytime Running Lights add to the car’s appearance.

At the rear, air ducts have been added to the corners of the rear bumper, resulting in better handling stability and enhanced overall driving response. The rear combination lamps now house more pronounced L-shaped lenses that are a new signature design feature for Lexus coupés.

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A brushed treatment has been applied to the heater control and audio panels, while the cushioned knee pads on either side of the centre console have been made larger and raised higher. The driver’s palm rest has been reshaped and a stitching pattern has been added to the surface.

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New 19-inch wheels shod with higher-grip tyres support excellent steering response. The tyres now have a reduced Rolling Resistance Coefficient, which aids in achieving the excellent ride comfort.

New shock absorbers, which provide significant damping force from low suspension stroke speeds, and stiffer suspension bushings have also been introduced. The new RC underwent extensive real-world testing, with chassis engineers constantly fine-tuning performance, to improve ride and handling.

It has a front and rear coil-spring independent suspension with monotube dampers and ball-joined stabiliser bars. The rear suspension has a double wishbone assembly and a multi-link system with a castor-locating rod for maximum rear grip and balance.

The 3,5-litre Lexus dual-injection 2GR-FKS V6 in the Lexus RC 350 F Sport delivers 232 kW of power at 6 600 r/min and 380 Nm of torque at 4 800 r/min, equating to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6,3 seconds, topped off by a maximum speed of 230 km/h.

It produces claimed fuel economy figures of 9,4 l/100km combined, CO2 emissions of 217 g/km and is Euro-5 compliant.

The 2GR-FKS engine is matched to an eight-speed transmission with M Mode, allowing full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears. The eight internal ratios have been chosen to balance the needs of sports driving and fuel economy – with a low first gear ratio for initial acceleration, closely spaced ratios in the intermediate gears for performance and urban-driving economy, and a tall eighth-gear ratio for motorway economy.

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The transmission is linked to the Lexus Drive Mode Select function, with its ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT S+ settings.

The RC 350 F Sport is fitted with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), which electronically controls and monitors all four dampers simultaneously to suit certain conditions and driving preferences.

It aids ride comfort when driving on rough roads by lowering the damping force but can also deliver a sporting drive with greater response and handling stability by increasing the damping force when SPORT S+ mode is engaged via Drive Mode Select.

The RC has the added feature of Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), which controls steering ratio according to vehicle speed and steering operation. The latest-generation Lexus VGRS has the actuator unit on the steering column with an integrated rubber damper to reduce noise and vibration.

It comes with Lane Departure Alert with Lane Keep Assist, which uses a camera mounted behind the rear view mirror to help monitor the driver’s position in their lane and warns the driver in the event they inadvertently drift out of lane. The RC 350 F Sport’s Automatic High-Beam uses the same camera to switch to low beam when the lights of oncoming or preceding vehicles are detected.

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The Lexus RC 350 F Sport retails for R939 100. The RC model also boasts a Lexus 7-year/105 000 km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan as well as a Lexus Distance Plan Complete. The vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000 km, alternatively once a year.

Busy time for BMW

Another busy year is on the cards for BMW South Africa with an array of updates and refreshes across a spread of the models it offers locally.

Effective from March there are new items of standard equipment and individualisation options for the BMW 2 Series Coupé, BMW 2 Series Convertible as well as BMW 4 Series models, BMW M4 Coupé and BMW M4 Convertible.

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New will be the BMW 8 Series Coupé and new BMW X5 with additional exterior paint finishes and leather variants.

New design features, exterior paint finishes and light-alloy wheels enhance the sporting appearance of the BMW 2 Series Coupé, BMW 2 Series Convertible, BMW 4 Series, BMW M4 Coupé and BMW M4 Convertible.

And, just a few months on from the market launch of the new BMW X5 and imminent launch of the new BMW 8 Series Coupé, the selection of exterior paint finishes and leather appointments for the luxury sports car and Sports Activity Vehicle will grow to include additional variants.

The 2 Series gets darkened rear lights as standard, while Sport Line specification customers will find additional bi-colour 17-inch and 18-inch light-alloy wheels on the options list.

M light-alloy wheels (18-inch) in twin-spoke design, painted in matt Cerium Grey and with mixed-size tyres, will be offered as a new option for the BMW M240i Coupé and BMW M240i Convertible.

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All Sport Line model and M Sport model variants of the BMW 2 Series Coupé and BMW 2 Series Convertible come with a black kidney grille surround. And new to the options list for the interior is Dakota leather trim with exclusive stitching.

Standard equipment enhancements include sports automatic transmission, servotronic, instrument cluster with extended contents as well as leathertec upholstery (for BMW 2 Series Coupé only).

The selection of colours available for the BMW 4 Series Coupé and BMW 4 Series Convertible now also includes Mediterranean Blue metallic. Newcomers to the range of optional equipment available for all BMW 4 Series models are 18-inch light-alloy wheels in twin-spoke design and the bi-colour paint variant Orbit Grey, plus 19-inch M light-alloy wheels in twin-spoke design and bi-colour Jet Black with mixed-size tyres.

The interior also contains some new touches in the form of the Mocha colour shade for the optional Dakota leather trim on Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport cars and interior trim strips in Carbon Fibre, which are available in conjunction with M Sport specification.

The M Sport and Sport Line variants of the BMW 4 Series will now be fitted with black rear light screens and a BMW kidney grille surround in High-gloss Black as standard.

Darkened rear lights are also set to adorn the rear of the BMW M4 Coupé and BMW M4 Convertible.

The BMW Individual paint finish, Frozen Dark Blue metallic, will be offered as an option for the two high-performance models from March 2019. Plus, the BMW M4 Coupé with M Competition package can be ordered with two new bi-colour leather trim options. BMW Individual fine-grain Merino full leather trim is available in the Sakhir Orange/Black and Silverstone/ Black combinations.

A new addition for the 4 Series Coupé, BMW 4 Series Convertible and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé is the M Sport Individual model. Here, the new equipment line includes the BMW Individual paint finish Tanzanite Blue metallic, an M Aerodynamics package, BMW Individual High-gloss Shadow Line, 19-inch BMW Individual light-alloy wheels in V-spoke design with mixed-size tyres, and variable sport steering. Rear-wheel-drive models also get M Sport suspension.

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Furthermore, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé and BMW 4 Series Coupé will be offered with the following standard equipment locally; sports automatic transmission, front and rear park distance control, Harman Kardon surround sound system, through load function, instrument cluster with extended contents and multifunction instrument display.

The BMW 4 Series Convertible on the other hand will be offered standard with the sports automatic transmission, front and rear park distance control, instrument cluster with extended contents and multifunction instrument display.

The BMW 8 Series Coupe can be tailored even more precisely to the owner’s personal style from March 2019 thanks to a wider array of exterior paint finishes and leather appointments. The spectrum of body colours available has expanded to include the BMW Individual paint finishes Aventurine Red metallic and Tanzanite Blue metallic and the BMW Individual special paint finishes Brilliant White metallic, Frozen Dark Brown metallic, Frozen Arctic Grey metallic, Frozen Cashmere Silver metallic, Frozen Dark Silver metallic, Frozen Brilliant White metallic and Pure Metal Silver metallic.

Meanwhile, BMW Individual fine-grain Merino full leather trim will appeal to those looking to lend a particularly exclusive feel to the design of their car’s interior. It can be ordered in Black, Ivory White and Cognac, as well as the Fiona Red/Black, Tartufo/Black, Ivory White/Tartufo and Midnight Blue/Black combinations. Also new to the options list are BMW Individual fine wood interior trim strips in Black Ash Silver Effect high-gloss.

The range of body colour shades and leather appointments for the new BMW X5 will also be further expanded in March 2019. The Sports Activity Vehicle will now be available with the exterior paint finishes Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect metallic and Terra Brown metallic and BMW Individual paint finishes Ruby Black metallic, Pyrite Brown metallic, Ametrine metallic and Tanzanite Blue metallic.

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New arrivals include BMW Individual extended leather upholstery Merino in Ivory White/Midnight Blue combination and BMW Individual fine-grain Merino full leather trim in Black, Ivory White, Tartufo, Coffee and Ivory White/Midnight Blue. And from April 2019, BMW Individual interior trim strips in Fineline Black fine wood with aluminium inlays will also be available as an option.

The BMW X2 has now welcomed a new top-of-the-line model variant. The market launch of the BMW X2 M35i sees the compact Sports Activity Coupés link up with a powerful four-cylinder petrol engine.

The new 2,0-litre unit with M TwinPower Turbo technology generates maximum output of 225 kW and peak torque of 450 Nm, and accelerates the BMW X2 M35i from 0 to 100 km/h in 5,0 seconds.

Power transfer is via an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive. An M Sport braking system and mechanical M Sport differential at the front axle also play their part in endowing the flagship X2 with its standout sporting prowess.

Pricing starts from R809 100.

Go to brand

Volkswagen is marching rapidly towards being the ‘go to’ brand on the African continent with the signing of another Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), this time with Ethiopia for the joint development of an auto industry in that country.

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Volkswagen has been manufacturing vehicles in South Africa since 1951 and has been the market leader in passenger cars for the past eight consecutive years. Volkswagen also has vehicle assembly operations in Algeria, Kenya and Rwanda. Rwanda has an Integrated Mobility Solutions business, which currently offers Community Car Sharing and shortly to be launched Ride Hailing.

The latest MoU was signed by Thomas Schaefer, Head of the Volkswagen Sub-Sahara Africa Region and Commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), Abebe Abebayehu.The MoU was signed in the presence of the Ethiopian Minister for Finance and Economic Cooperation, Ahmed Shide and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, who is on a state visit to Ethiopia.

The signing of the MoU paves way for Volkswagen and the Ethiopian Government to commence high-level and technical collaboration which is integral to the development of an automotive industry and policy framework.

It identifies four key pillars as important for the development of the Ethiopian automotive industry. These include the establishment of a vehicle assembly facility, localisation of automotive components, introduction of mobility concepts such as app-based car sharing and ride hailing as well as the opening of local skills development training centre.

Furthermore, Volkswagen undertook to draw upon its vast global experience in global supply chains in the automotive industry in anticipation that the project will lead to the development of an automotive industry in the country.

In turn, the Ethiopian Government committed to support the establishment of specialised clusters owing to the economies of scale and efficiencies realised through the project.

The Ethiopian Government has acknowledged the pivotal role played by trainable labour force in creating a thriving and competitive automotive industry. As such, Volkswagen will work closely with the Ethiopian higher education and training institutions for skills development and capacity building of local talent.

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Ethiopia becomes the third country in Sub-Sahara Africa to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Volkswagen in the last six months. It follows Ghana and Nigeria, which both signed MoUs with Volkswagen in August 2018. In Ghana, Volkswagen undertook to establish a vehicle assembly facility and conduct a feasibility study for an integrated mobility solutions concept. In Nigeria, Volkswagen undertook to implement a phased approach in relation to the assembly of vehicles initially from assembly kits with long term view of establishing Nigeria as an automotive hub in West Africa.

“Our Sub-Sahara Africa strategy is gaining momentum with the signing of the third MoU in the last six months. We are grateful for the support and vision of the Ethiopian Government in identifying the automotive sector as one of the key manufacturing industries that can help the country to realise its Vision 2025 goals,” says Schaefer.

“As one of the fastest growing economies, and with the second highest population in the continent, Ethiopia is an ideal country to advance our Sub-Sahara Africa development strategy. Additionally, Volkswagen intends on tapping into existing expertise and strategic resources in Ethiopia to establish a thriving automotive components industry.”

Abebe Abebayehu, Commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) says: “Ethiopia is in a remarkable economic, political and social transformation that puts inclusive and sustainable growth, and private sector development, at its heart.

“With a fast growing economy and stellar performance on FDI inflow, Ethiopia is asserting itself as a competitive and preferred location of choice for investment. This MoU signing with Volkswagen is yet another testimony that Ethiopia is open for business.

“Through this partnership, we hope to advance a joint vision for the development of a competitive, vertically integrated and sustainable automotive industry. The Government of Ethiopia stands ready to effectively translate this partnership into concrete actions and actual investment.’’

Under its TRANSFORM 2025+ brand strategy, Volkswagen is strengthening the regions and focusing on new up-and-coming markets. Alongside North and South America as well as China, the Sub-Sahara Africa region plays an increasingly important role.

Although the African automotive market is comparatively small today, the region could develop into an automotive growth market of the future. Africa has been identified as the last frontier for the automotive industry.

Ethiopia is a priority and focus country for Germany under the G20 Compact with Africa initiative.

“Volkswagen welcomes the G20 ‘Compact with Africa’ initiative in Ethiopia. The German Government has been very supportive of our expansion strategy into Sub-Sahara Africa. We are as committed to the success of Africa as they are,” concluded Schaefer.

Looking forward to 2019

Hino South Africa heads into 2019 with the launch of a 1627 FC Crew Cab in manual and automatic scheduled for March alongside some upgrading of the Dyna and this on the back of an extremely successful 2018.

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It notched up another full-house of category-leading results in the Data Track Comparative Customer Satisfaction Monitor (CCSM). Hino came out top in the fourth quarter results in terms of overall ranking as well as topping the categories for sales, service, and parts.

Hino had raised the benchmark for the combined score to 99,25% in the third quarter of 2018 and then raised this mark even higher in the fourth quarter, lifting it to 99,35%. Sales ratings hit a new high at 99,80% satisfaction as did service, reaching 99,40%.

Parts was marginally down at 98,86%, compared to 99,17% in the third quarter, but this was still well clear of the runner-up in this category that scored 97,40%.

Two brands tied for the runner-up spot in the combined score at 97,39%, compared to Hino’s score of 99,35%. The national average combined score was 94,18%, which is still very good as it is only just below Scott Byers’ benchmark of 95%.

Data Track has been conducting these independent, quarterly customer experience interviews with fleet operators continuously since 1989. The results are used by the local transport industry as key indicators regarding the levels of customers service in sales, parts, technical service and overall by the manufacturers and importers of trucks in SA.

“We, as the Hino team, are exceptionally proud of our ongoing successes in the Data Track surveys, particularly as we continue to set new benchmarks in this ongoing market research with our customers,” says Ernie Trautmann, Vice President of Hino SA.

“This latest achievement was the cherry on the top for us in 2018, as Hino also came out top in the commercial vehicle section of the 2018 Dealer Satisfaction Index, conducted annually by the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA), and which allows dealers to rate their manufacturers or distributors,” added Trautmann.

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“We at Hino are now all fired up to continue to maintain our top position in this important quarterly survey in 2019.”

For the current year, Hino is predicting a very modest growth in commercial vehicles sales of less than 1% but Trautmann says he expects to see a 4,5% growth in parts sales to R370-million.

He adds it is the aim of the company to be the No 1 truck brand in South Africa.

“Our ongoing success is a direct outflow of the application of the global Hino Total Support strategy, which is driven by Hino Motors Limited in Japan, but extends to building strong relationships between our parent company, our dealers, suppliers and, importantly, all our customers,” he says.

Road Review – Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0 Base

The international build-up and hype preceding the launch of the Alfa Romeo Giulia in South Africa on March 07, 2017 also promoted a journalistic feeding frenzy as auto writers vied desperately to be the first to road test the new cars.

This, after all, was Alfa’s ‘revival’.

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But wait. Hold up. Let’s roll back the years a bit. As a petrolhead in my formative years, Alfa Romeo was the aspirational brand. It was what we looked up to and lusted after; a feeling cemented by the antics of the likes of Arnold Chatz on the race tracks of South Africa.

There were others that followed him such as Abel D’Oliviera and then Nicolo Bianco and none can forget Louis Cloete punishing a GTV through the Sabie forests on rally roads.

It truly was a fine time.

In 1970, Alfa Romeo established a production facility at Brits and it was so successful, between 1972 and 1998, South Africa had the highest number of Alfas on the road outside of Italy.

When the doors closed on the factory, it started a very quiet period for the marque locally with only the Alfisti trying desperately to keep the name alive – then in a sea of new vehicles coming to the fore that grabbed the sport-minded ones’ attention such as the BMW 3-Series, Golf GTi, Opel Kadett and others (in no particular order).

It was not until 1997 that Alfa gained any attention locally. Nissan had re-introduced the brand a while before (1996) with the 145 and 146 and Fiat formally reurned to South Africa practically on the eve of the launch of the stunning Walter da Silva penned 156, shown at Geneva in 1997 – copies of his sketches still taking pride of place on my office wall.

This was supposed to be (again) the re-invention of Alfa Romeo. In Europe and elsewhere it had been struggling as had parent company Fiat. However, there was sufficient momentum and Fiat formally came to South Africa to launch the 156 and win the South African Car of the Year title.

The 159 followed (2004) , gaining some fame in the opening sequence of the James Bond movie ‘Quantum of Solace’ and the 2,4-litre JTDM diesel engine won the Alternative Energy Class in each of the three Bathurst 12-hour races contested (2007, 2009, 2010).

The 159 used the GM/Fiat Premium platform, shared with the Alfa Romeo Brera and Spider production cars.

Then came the horrible 166 (even though it had been designed before the 156) and, again, Alfa seemed to fade like the mist in a forest (except, possibly for the Brera) until the company was bought up to become part of Chrysler stable. Even then, the promised Alfa revival seemed to stutter along until the launch of the Mito.

In itself, hardly a ‘real’ Alfa Romeo but, it did bring with it the cleverly engineered ‘DNA’ gearbox that lives on in the current Giulia.

As the initial lustre on the Mito faded so did Alfa Romeo – until the first information on the all-new Alfa Romeo revival Giulia started appearing. Not part of the initial launch shark pool, it has taken a long while to get a car to test, so rather than a regular road review, we look at how it has fared in the two years since launch.

Still achingly beautiful the Giulia certainly has not had its shine dimmed by fashion trends and if launched today, would still garner many of the same accolades for design and styling.

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To recap – Alfa Romeo’s D-Segment offering, the Giulia boasts outstanding weight distribution across the two axles, a sophisticated suspension and the most direct steering in its segment.

The Giulia Base features a high level of standard equipment that includes 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, Cruise Control as well as Stop / Start technology.

On the safety front, the Alfa Romeo Giulia earned a prestigious Euro NCAP 5-star rating, scoring 98% in adult occupant protection. This was the highest score ever achieved by a car despite the more stringent evaluation system introduced in 2015.

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Giulia heralded the début of the new 2,0-litre petrol engine – a 4-cylinder engine made entirely of aluminium – which generates 147 kW at 5,000 r/min and a maximum torque of 33 0Nm at 1 750 r/min. In addition to the MultiAir electro-hydraulic valve activation system, the particular features of this engine include the ‘2-in-1” turbo-charger system and a 200-bar direct injection high pressure system, which combine to deliver quick response to accelerator commands at all speeds while permitting highly efficient fuel consumption levels.

All Giulia models come with an 8-speed automatic transmission as standard.

The suspension layout implemented on Giulia utilises a double wishbone setup with semi-virtual steering axis at the front and a 4,5-link suspension with a solution for toe adjustment – patented by Alfa Romeo – for the rear axle.

The Base model launched at R555 000. Taking a quick troll through the 2017 models on offer as second-hand purchases on AutoTrader, the average mileage on the cars looked at comes to 23 982 kilometres with an average asking price of R446 162.

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For any car a value retention of 80,38% over two years is pretty good going. However, based on the original launch price and doing a quick calculation on the lease cost and using our average as the RV, the Giulia has not been the cheapest car on the market to run on a cents/kilometre basis.

Considering that during those two years the fuel price has seen some scandalous increases, the running costs in the region of R5,00 a kilometre and the fact the economy has also taken a major dive may point to the reason such low mileage examples are up for sale.

It does, however, have a 3 year / 100 000 km warranty and 6 year / 100 000 km Maintenance Plan.

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Damn pity. The Alfa is such a pleasure to drive even in its most basic form. It is everything an Alfa Romeo should be. Rear wheel drive, taught, points where the steering aims and just oozes a desire to be thrashed out on the open road and through ever-tightening corners.

In that regard, the two-year wait was more than worth it.

The lust is back.

(Images may show specification different to tested vehicle)

Repair is an option

Consider that Americans throw away 416 000 smartphones a day and that nearly 60-million tons of electronic waste is generated every year – much, simply because consumers just cannot get them repaired.

To deal with this growing concern the European Parliament has approached the EU Commission, member states and producers with several recommendations. One includes that consumers should have the option of going to an independent repairer.

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Technical, safety or software solutions which prevent repairs from being performed, other than by approved firms or bodies, should be discouraged. Other points include that essential components, such as batteries and LEDs, should not be fixed into products, unless for safety reasons and spare parts, which are indispensable for the proper and safe functioning of the goods should be made available at a price commensurate with the nature and life-time of the product.

As South Africa is preparing for implementation of an automotive industry code that supports the Right to Repair (R2R), the European Union (EU), United States (US) and other countries are starting to implement R2R in other industries.

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“The concept and principles of R2R started in the motor industry more than 20 years ago in the EU and US,” says Gunther Schmitz, Chairman of the Section-21 company, Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA).

“The same concepts and principles are now being implemented in many industries from computers and cell phones to washing machines and agricultural machinery,”

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In the US, until 2013, carmakers routinely kept vital diagnostic and repair tools out of the hands of independent workshops, despite protests from the industry and attempts at legislation to make the practice illegal. Massachusetts then passed automotive right-to-repair legislation, and within a few months carmakers agreed to use the state’s rules as a national standard. This change is said to have set a benchmark for other industries.

“While R2R was originally driven by independent workshops and parts manufacturers we now see consumer rights groups and environmental organisations supporting the Right to Repair. This confirms the positive benefits for the consumer, the environment and the economy are being acknowledged globally and cross industries.

“It also supports R2RSA’s view the right to repair is a basic right in any economy and is becoming the international norm, not the exception, as manufacturers and dealers in SA would like us to believe,” he says.

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“The reality is if we do not see change in the motor industry, we could be facing a time, in the not so distant future, where consumers who cannot afford to have their cars repaired at a dealer will simple not be able to have their cars repaired.

“This is because affordable independent repairers will not have the information, tools or training to repair cars as more and more components become coded,” explains Schmitz.

“And what will happen to these vehicles that, simply, the owner cannot afford to repair? Sold, scrapped, who knows…”

He says this is why the Right to Repair campaign is calling for transparency when it comes to access to information, tools and training so the aftermarket can be well-equipped to service cars in or out of warranty.

“Independent workshops are more than happy to buy this information at a reasonable price. Right now, however, this is not an option in South Africa. In Europe, for example, this information is housed in a data cloud and workshops have access through an interface on a subscription basis.

“The information also includes essential service information from the OEMs so mechanics have all the tips at their disposal.”

“While R2RSA is focusing on the automotive repair market, we embrace the right to repair conceptually across other industries as we believe that this will be positive for the consumer in terms of choice and will lead to a more competitive economy.”

Schmitz says the code of conduct, due to be published soon, will encourage much-needed progress.