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Home  /  November 2022  /  Comment

You know men never ask for directions, instructions, medical assistance, grooming tips, sex advice or information on anything to do with cars.

This must be the reason I spent 15 minutes sitting in a Polestar in a Hertz parking spot in Adelaide airport. Polestar is a Swedish brand created in 1996 by Volvo. China-based global car company Geely bought Volvo in 2010. Geely also owns Lotus, Proton, a share in Aston Martin and a reasonable part of Mercedes. Geely is owned by Li Shufu, 59, of Hangzhou. But unfortunately good old Shufu wasn’t there to help.

If you’ve never driven an electric car (and you know my advice is don’t bother) there’s a lot to learn. Look, everyone says they don’t make any noise. That’s true but I still expected to be able to hear when it was turned on and ready to go. I pressed every button. In an act of desperation, I even looked for the manual. But like the rest of modern literature, it’s online.

I pressed the acceleration and went brooom brooom but that didn’t do it. Friendly Hertz staff started approaching but of course I pretended I was busy with work and shooed them away. Eventually, through some miracle (an event that is inexplicable by the laws of science and nature) I discovered by pressing the brake with my right foot the Polestar moved silently forward.

Now I know dopey older Australians like me and the man I introduce to strangers as my father (Michael McMichael so good his parents named him twice) and the strangers believe me, say the big problem with EVs apart from no noise, is range anxiety. Well 20 readers, one friend and current son, range anxiety is a huge problem.

Just say you decide to use your Polestar, or other similar iPad on wheels, to check out the course for an upcoming rally. It doesn’t take long for the range gizmo to tell you that you only have 10 per cent battery or 20km left. To put it nicely, you’re stuffed.

The nearest charging station (and they’re not stations, they are things that look like parking meters that you need to download an app to start and then you have to find a big hose, attach it to the parking meter and mate the other end to the petrol tank of your Chinese made, Swedish branded EV) is 30km away.

Naturally your body goes moist with anxiety and your co-driver begins swearing and making racist remarks about Scandinavian nations, Scandinavians in general, China, Mr Shufu and the quality of his company’s Malaysian-made Protons. Then he utters the magic words: “You know it takes two hours to charge one of these?”

Once you get towed to the charging station you have to find the hose. This only took 20 minutes because it’s hidden in the boot where the spare wheel should be. And you have to fit it after you unlock the parking meter with your app, then press the on button on the side of the parking meter which switches on a green light on the front of the parking meter, which you have to press within three seconds or you have to repeat the whole cycle.

Here’s a tip. Once you have the big hose attached to both the parking meter and the car it’s locked in place to stop anyone stealing your electricity until you remember to use your app to unlock it.

As real car reviewers say, the good points to the Polestar are: It’s not a Tesla, it looks good, the inside is pretty swish, it’s cheap to run and the big iPad works really well.

The bad points are: You never know if it’s off or on, charging is hard to do and takes a long time and it runs down really fast. Sit in the dealer’s showroom for 15 minutes before you drive away for somewhere over $65k.

Now after a quick run through the Adelaide Hills you need a short stop at Andy Fischer and Karen Tregloan’s Cudlee Creek Restaurant Tavern and Caravan Park for a sample of the six Coopers beers on tap at affordable prices and the $10.90 schnitty buffet. Readers, just remember, mention the old bloke’s name and you can come back to the buffet as many times you like.

On a more depressing note: when Australia was still great in 1975 men and women used to drink 141 litres of beer a year. Today we are now drinking less than 70 litres. Look, all of us on the Weekend Australian Racing Team and readers like John Mac, Paul Korganow and Garry Newley are doing our bit. Other Australians, pull up your Brunello Cucinelli grey cotton ribbed socks and get into it.

Talking of Australians, Dan Ricciardo will join Red Bull as their third driver for the 2023 Formula One season. The real reason is that Red Bull will probably give Sergio Perez the flick for upsetting Mad Max thus putting Dan back with his old teammate. And the F1 year ended with Mad Max leading Chuck Leclerc, Sergio Perez, George Russell, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship and Red Bull taking first from Ferrari and Mercedes in the constructors’ race.

And the New York Times had this to say about Tesla self-driving technology: “This summer, Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, said the system would be available in more than a million cars by the end of the year. In August, we spent a day driving around with (owner) Mr Cook and his Tesla to assess the progress of this experimental technology. Over six hours, his car navigated highways, exit ramps, city streets, roundabouts, bridges and parking lots. With his hands near or on the wheel and his eyes on the road, the car attempted more than 40 unprotected left-hand turns against oncoming traffic. It kept us on the edge of our seats.’

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