This week in car news: February 11-17

We publish a ton of car news stories during the working week, and it can be tough to keep up with everything – which is the rationale behind this weekend list.

In short, here are some key articles from our news desk since Monday of this week summarised, just in case you missed them at the time.


Toyota HiLux could lose sales crown in 2023

The best-selling vehicle in the country could be dethroned in 2023, as Toyota Australia admits the competition is fiercer than ever before.

The Japanese brand’s mainstay HiLux ute – which accounted for a huge 64,391 sales in 2022 – has been the best-selling vehicle nameplate in Australia for seven years straight, but it is at risk of losing that position in 2023, Toyota admits.

Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia vice president of sales, marketing and franchise operations, intimated the brand is up against it in 2023 when it comes to what he calls, “super competitors” in the ute space.

“HiLux is facing a big challenge this year. We certainly respect our competitors, it’s a challenging market, and we don’t take our position for granted,” he said.

FULL STORY: Toyota admits HiLux could lose sales crown in 2023


Toyota’s all-wheel drive hot hatch priced

Toyota has released official pricing and specs for the highly anticipated GR Corolla, ahead of its arrival in March.

Prices start from $62,300 before on-road costs for the GR Corolla GTS and $77,800 before on-road costs for the Morizo Edition excluding on-road costs.

Toyota Australia has confirmed it has secured 700 units of the GTS within the first year of production and only 25 examples of the Morizo Edition.

The stripped-out flagship will join the GTS “in the coming months”.

FULL STORY: 2023 Toyota Corolla GR price and specs


Ram reveals its first electric pickup

Ram is using the biggest show of the year – at least in the US – to tease its first electric pickup truck.

The Ram 1500 REV, as it will be called, is being previewed in a Super Bowl commercial ahead of a fourth-quarter 2024 introduction in the US, and the company has also released a bevy of images – if little in the way of technical information.

The company notes “range-lengthening technology” will come later.

FULL STORY: 2024 Ram 1500 REV electric pickup previewed


Citroen’s updated C5 Aircross coming this year

Peugeot Citroen Australia has confirmed the facelifted 2023 C5 Aircross Sport will be arriving in local showrooms “later in H1, 2023“, along with some initial details.

While pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet, customers can register their interest at Citroen’s website, with the new Sport specification bringing bringing an upgraded drivetrain, more features, and much improved technology.

For 2023 there’s a 133kW/250Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol under the bonnet, driving the front wheels via a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The previous C5 Aircross Shine ran a 121kW tune and a six-speed auto.

FULL STORY: 2023 Citroen C5 Aircross initial details confirmed


Toyota strengthening focus on EVs

Koji Sato is stepping into the top job at Toyota, and one of his first acts will be to strengthen the Japanese giant’s focus on electric vehicles.

Lexus will lead the transformation, with the luxury brand already confirmed to be going EV-only by 2035.

“To deliver attractive BEVs to more customers, we must streamline the structure of the car, and―with a BEV-first mindset―we must drastically change the way we do business, from manufacturing to sales and service,” said Sato-san, who takes the reins on April 1, 2023.

FULL STORY: Toyota adopting “BEV-first” mindset under new CEO


Victoria cracking down on phones, smartwatches, tablets in the car

The state of Victoria is cracking down on distracted drivers, introducing new rules from March 31, 2023 surrounding device use as it rolls out mobile phone and seat belt cameras.

Illegal use of a mobile phone or other device attracts a $555 fine and four demerit points. If the matter is heard at court, the fine can be as much as $1849.

Learner and probationary drivers will lose their permit or licence if they accumulate more than four demerit points in a year; full licence holders’ limit is 11 demerit points over a three-year period.

FULL STORY: Victoria cracking down on phones, smartwatches, tablets in the car


Mini Electric goes topless in Europe

Mini has revealed its first-ever electric convertible, but it’s only a limited edition.

The 2023 Mini Cooper SE Convertible will be available in Europe from April this year and be limited to 999 units.

Every example of this limited-edition convertible will be produced alongside the internal-combustion Mini Convertible in the Netherlands.

It’s unclear if Mini plans to offer these electric convertibles in any market other than Europe. We’ve reached out to Mini Australia and will update this story once we hear back.

FULL STORY: Mini Electric goes topless in Europe


How the Toyota GR Corolla and GR Yaris could get even more popular

Toyota’s hardcore GR division could soon offer an automatic transmission choice for customers in the market for a GR Yaris or GR Corolla.

Toyota GR Corolla chief engineer Naoyuki Sakamoto told CarExpert the brand is working on an automatic transmission option for buyers right now.

“It’s possible. We are testing an automatic transmission in the GR Yaris in the Japanese rally team,” Sakamoto-san said.

“We have joined the rally series with a GR Yaris with automatic transmission, and with each rally if we find some issues, we improve it. Such kind of activity is the central idea of the GR company – always from motorsports development.”

FULL STORY: How the Toyota GR Corolla and GR Yaris could get even more popular


Peugeot’s first electric vehicle for Australia confirmed

Peugeot’s first electric vehicle in Australia will be a version of its small Partner van.

The 2023 Peugeot e-Partner will arrive in the first half of this year, with full specifications and local pricing to be revealed closer to launch.

The brand has committed to offering electric vehicles across its passenger car, SUV and light commercial vehicle ranges.

The e-Partner will be offered exclusively in long-wheelbase guise, unlike the combustion-powered model which can also be had with a shorter wheelbase.

FULL STORY: Peugeot Australia’s first EV here in the first half of 2023


EU Parliament approves 2035 ban on diesel and petrol new car sales

On Tuesday, the European Parliament approved the CO2 emissions reductions targets that will see the sale of new petrol and diesel cars banned in 2035.

The ‘Fit for 55’ package, originally proposed on 14 July 2021, aims to contribute to the European Union’s overall climate objectives for 2030 and 2050 by directing the automotive industry towards low- and zero-emission technologies, and making it more feasible for consumers to adapt said technologies.

Banning the sale of CO2-emitting cars in 2035 will support the goal of a carbon-neutral transport sector by 2050, considering the average lifespan of a new vehicle is 15 years.

The ban, which was approved with 340 votes in favour, 279 against and 21 abstentions, will support the EU’s ambitious emissions reduction targets to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and vans by 100 per cent compared to 2021.

FULL STORY: EU Parliament approves 2035 ban on diesel and petrol new car sales


Toyota HiLux hybrid plans taking shape

Toyota is the undisputed leader for hybrid technology in the Australian market, but it has yet to offer any electrification on its top-selling HiLux ute. That’s set to change.

Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales, marketing and franchise operations, hinted the HiLux range will expand further this year.

“Of course, we’re not standing still with our HiLux line-up,” Mr Hanley said. “Last year we launched the [updated] HiLux Rogue, and it has been very warmly received. In the third quarter of this year, we’ll launch HiLux GR Sport.”

“Beyond that, we will have more action on HiLux in the second half of the year.”

FULL STORY: Toyota HiLux hybrid plans taking shape


2024 Volkswagen Touareg: Updated flagship SUV to be more luxe than ever

The Volkswagen Touareg will receive its mid-life facelift during the European summer, ahead of an Australian launch during the first quarter of 2024.

According to the brand, headline changes for this nip-and-tuck include chassis and technology updates, more premium cabin appointments, as well as a European-first illuminated rear VW logo.

For Australia, the facelifted range will also see the introduction of the Touareg R eHybrid PHEV, which was previously earmarked for a late-2022 or early-2023 launch Down Under. The local arm has opted to wait for the upgraded model rather than importing a handful of pre-facelift models.

Other details – like any powertrain changes or shuffles to the Australian line-up – will be confirmed at the facelifted Touareg’s reveal in the coming months.

FULL STORY: 2024 Volkswagen Touareg: Updated flagship SUV to be more luxe than ever


Subaru Solterra’s Australian launch delayed again

Subaru has confirmed its first electric vehicle is now set for a launch later this year.

The Subaru Solterra had been set for a “mid-2023” launch, but has now been confirmed for a launch in the second half of the year.

“Subaru Australia looks forward to launching the Subaru Solterra in the second half of 2023. With global, industry-wide supply constraints and strong demand for Subaru vehicles, at times there may be a slight adjustment to the arrival times of new products, as experienced with the Solterra,” said a spokesperson for Subaru Australia.

FULL STORY: Subaru Australia delays its first electric vehicle again


Toyota wants enthusiast GR Corolla buyers, won’t blacklist speculators

Toyota Australia has taken the unprecedented step of screening potential buyers of the new GR Corolla hot hatch to ensure the cars – which are available in low volumes due to supply constraints – find legitimate enthusiast owners.

The Japanese brand has instituted the move to try and circumvent the onslaught of price-gouging profiteers that have found buyers willing to pay over the odds for their new cars during the COVID period.

Toyota Australia sales, marketing and franchise operations manager, Sean Hanley, said the brand is asking dealers to be more active in ensuring the right buyer gets the car they deserve.

FULL STORY: Toyota wants enthusiast GR Corolla buyers, won’t blacklist speculators

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