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Merc's X-Class bakkie gets axed

Mercedes-Benz will soon cease production of its double-cab bakkie.

SEE | Here's the bakkie of the decade

'Our choice for bakkie of the decade is slow, date and indispensable,' writes Lance Branquinho.

Here's why this is the absolute 'car of the decade'

2020-01-01 06:00

Lance Branquinho

tesla model3

Tesla Model 3 compact full electric car on display at the 2019 Concours dElegance at palace Soestdijk on August 25, 2019 in Baarn, Netherlands. (Photo by Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images)

The future is electric. And it would not be happening without Tesla.

The last ten years have seen a monumental disruption in the automotive business.

Product design appeared to happily be evolving to SUV-everything throughout the 2010s, but nobody expected the radical influence that Tesla would have.

Although the American electric car brand debuted its first product, the Roadster, in 2008, it was Tesla’s expanded product portfolio throughout the 2010s, which established its credibility.

Sceptics have been waiting for Tesla to go bankrupt and fail in its mission of unsettling the conventional car business, but it appears to be surviving. And adding products.

Of all the vehicles that Tesla developed and marketed in the last decade, it's most influential has also been the cheapest.


What has been your best car of this decade? Email us.



SA-born Elon Musk was visionary by applying an inverted product evolution strategy: he started with impractical and expensive vehicles, to earn maximum revenue, before delivering more affordable Teslas.

tesla model 3

  Tesla Model 3 compact full electric car on display at the 2019 Concours dElegance at palace Soestdijk on August 25, 2019 in Baarn, Netherlands. (Photo by Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images)

By far the most influential car of the decade is Tesla‘s Model3.

It is a vehicle of strange contradictions. By the time Tesla had finally managed to deliver its Model3 to customers in late 2017, the market for mid-size sedan cars had shrunk dramatically. Despite this, Tesla’s Model3 has proven boundlessly popular, with surging global demand.

Although there have been production delays and issues around panel gaps and bodywork alignment, the fundamental engineering behind Tesla’s Model3 is unrivalled.

Not even the most technically regarded German brands have managed to produce something with comparable performance or originality of design in terms of powertrain. Tesla’s batteries might be Panasonic’s doing, as part of a joint venture, but the electric motors are their own design and absolute genius.

Getting more out of batteries than anyone else

Illustrating just how good Tesla’s electric motor design is, consider what it does with the available battery power. A Tesla Model3’s battery pack is 75kWh. Yet it produces 370kW of peak power and can attain a 500km range under ideal conditions.

By comparison, Jaguar’s I-Pace has a larger 90kWh battery, but only manages 290kW of peak system output and a range of slightly less than 500km.

Engineers who have dissembled the Model3, most notably American powertrain specialist, Sandy Munro, quickly discovered that although the bodywork design was poor, everything else is decades ahead.Much like a Smartphone, almost any issue with a Model3 can be diagnosed and remedied by over-the-air updates, which completely revolutionaries the convenience of ownership. You don’t need to seek a dealership to plug-in for diagnostics or wait for an afternoon to hear what the fault code is.

But what has really been most credible, regarding Model3, is that Tesla built a family sedan with accidental supercar performance. It runs a real-world 0-100km/h time of 3.5 seconds.

It is all about the magnets

It is undeniable that Panasonic has perhaps not received enough credit for its enabling relationship with Tesla, producing the batteries for these amazing electric cars. But where Tesla’s engineering nous has been most evident, are those electric motors.

Whilst German engineers are still attempting to catch-up, Tesla’s Model3 motors are a production marvel of applied physics. Smaller than most other automotive electric drive motors, the Tesla motors use Halbach array magnetics, ironically a discovery of German physicists, Klaus Halbach.

A complicated manipulation of the magnetic field dynamics, most automotive engineers consider Halbach array too much of a challenge, especially trying to bond and stabilize the magnets in a way that harnesses the Halbach array effect.

Tesla managed to do it. And that is the reason its Model3 is our car of the decade.

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