Aug
10
2010

Welcome to the New Look DriveNow

By

Drivenow Car Hire logo

DriveNow, today is Australia’s most popular online Car and Campervan comparison site.

After almost 10 years of providing the very best in online Car and Campervan rental booking services, we have given our site a major revamp. This refresh has been completed thanks to the valuable feedback from loyal DriveNow customers. Your comments and compliments have been used to map our future and the services we offer you.

3 Key aspects to the new look:

    1. Search and Booking Process stays the same
      The number one comment we receive is – DriveNow is a great comparison and booking tool, don’t change anything!   We have certainly listened to this and ensured that the soul of DriveNow remains the same.   Our focus has been to refresh the look and feel of the site to make it even cleaner and visually easier to navigate and use.Here are some of the most recent comments to highlight this feedback.

“Overall, a good site – great to be able to compare companies and have all classes of vehicles available to choose from. Keep it going!! “

“Don’t fiddle with it. I like it because it is simple, basic and fast. I will keep using it as long as it stays that way. Try to resist the urge to over-engineer it, to be all things to all people. It never works.”

“Love your site. It is easy to navigate and all of the information required to easy to see at a glance.”

“After encountering a number of other confusing sites, I found yours well laid out and easy to use.”

“Really like how everything is clearly posted and compared side by side.”

“I am a regular DriveNow website user and this year alone have booked 5 cars via your site. It is extremely user friendly and provides exactly the info I am seeking on one web page”

  1. Highlight Specials and great Deals
    As the number of suppliers, vehicles and optionally extras have increased, so has the number of great deals and specials for our customers.  We believe the new site allows for a clearer and improved presentation of these deals and therefore easier access for our customers.
  2. Uncluttered and Fresh
    We have taken the opportunity to focus on what’s important to our customers and accommodate more Suppliers, Product and the best rates and availability for both Car and Campervan rental.

So, once again, thank you to all our loyal customers and especially those who have taken the time to provide valuable feedback. This process is never ending, please keep using our post travel surveys, emails, phone calls, blogs, etc to tell us what you think.

Regards
The team at DriveNow

Jul
31
2010

Great drives – Melbourne to Sydney (Tumut, a place to sweep you off your feet!)

By Australia / Melbourne / New South Wales / Sydney / Victoria /

MANY Aussies have done the famous trek from Melbourne to Sydney along the Hume Highway, but make sure you take the time to stop in a little town called Tumut.

Once grabbing a campervan rental in Melbourne head north and you will arrive at this amazing little destination after about six or seven hours later. Tumut is just before Goulburn, and is only a 25-minute drive from the highway – you won’t be disappointed! This is where you will find Australia’s only remaining original broom factory that makes good old-fashioned straw brooms. Prices start at just $10 each and have an impressive 10-year guarantee! There’s some serious sweeping to be had in these brooms, so you can’t really go wrong. Furthermore, these brooms are an absolute must for your campervan, caravan or motorhome, as they get into all the nooks and crannies. No matter what it is you are sweeping up, nothing beats a straw broom! And while at the factory you can actually watch them make one while you wait. It’s extraordinary to see them do it. All is original machinery and the process is relatively quick, too! They are a great bunch of guys who work there and they’re more than happy to let you watch them strut their stuff.

Also in Tumut, make sure you catch up on some Aboriginal heritage and culture. Pay a visit to the Tourist Info Centre (straight across the road from the Broom Factory) and ask for Shane. He is the area’s Aboriginal Culture Specialist and will give you an insight to the local Aboriginal history – it’s fascinating, and is a look at Aboriginal history like you have never seen before.

So when you’re next heading north or south along the Hume Highway, which can be otherwise quite boring, make sure Tumut is a must-visit destination on your itinerary. It’s an easy drive from the highway and quite picturesque, too, especially if you lob there in Autumn when the colours are amazing. It’s a great little town with all services, including a Maccas which will thrill the kids … and some grown-ups!

Tumut is certainly one of the best “hidden treasures” we have found in all our travels.

PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT

The Great Australian Doorstep screens on Channel 7TWO in Australia. Visit www.thegreataustraliandoorstep.com.au for more information about Spida and his family’s travels throughout Australia.

Jul
08
2010

Great driving holidays – Melbourne to Nagambie (Victoria)

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

WE decided to try out somewhere close to Melbourne, our hometown, but somewhere where it felt like we were on holiday.

So after a bit of research we chose Nagambie. This small town is only 90 minutes north of Melbourne, a great little place with all the services you need and a great little Victorian road trip. It has a great pub and an incredibly good bakery. In fact, people head from Melbourne to Nagambie for one reason – just to go to this bakery! There is nothing better than a loaf of extra-fresh bread.

We stayed at Nagambie Lakes Leisure Park. It’s an accommodation venue out of this world. It’s also funny because the park is almost bigger than the town. And to be perfectly honest, you needn’t leave the park either; aside from going to the bakery, that is.
This park has absolutely everything. It’s all new, luxurious and surrounded 360 degrees by water with the river on one side and the lake on the other. The park also has its own boat ramp, swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball, two playgrounds, jumping pillow … the list is endless.

Just around the corner from Nagambie Lakes Leisure Park is beautiful Chateau Tahbilk winery and what a day we had there. Did you know that the cellar they use is more than 100 years old, still original and still working to capacity? Damn fine wine is produced and we bought about three dozen bottles. It’s actually worth pointing out that, at the moment, all wine is really cheap so you can guarantee yourself some awesome cellar door specials.

There isn’t much more to do around Nagambie, but relax, there doesn’t need to be! So if it’s relaxation you want, Nagambie is the place for you.

PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT
The Great Australian Doorstep screens on Channel 7TWO in Australia

Jun
29
2010

2011 Rugby World Cup New Zealand – Finding a Motorhome Rental

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Ina little over a year the 2011 Rugby World Cup kicks off with New Zealand taking on Tonga in the opening game at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday 9th September 2011.  For those planning on attending the Cup, it’s fast approaching time to think about accommodation and how best to travel between matches.

With 40 matches and 12 venues spread across the North and South Islands travelling between venues will involve hitting the roads or airports and organising hotel accommodation in each location.

However, an increasingly popular alternative to emerge during recent Rugby Tours has been motorhome rental. Why rent a car and book accommodation separately when you can combine the two, throw in the flexibility of taking your bedroom with you and explore New Zealand between games!

These days Motorhomes are superbly equipped with complete kitchens, full bathroom facilities, TV and DVD players, easy to drive and can sleep from 2 up to 6. With Campervan Parks across New Zealand there’s no shortage of places to pull up overnight.

During the last British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand in 2005 the popularity of motorhome rental saw vehicles sell out quickly and there’s no doubt getting in early will be the best approach for 2011, to not only secure the right vehicle but also lock in the best rate. Rental rates have a nasty habit of rising the closer you get to an event or pick up date, as supply starts to dry up with ever increasing demand.

Booking a Motorhome or Campervan through DriveNow today involves no deposit and no credit card details. Your vehicle will be booked and secured in your name and full payment is not required until 6 weeks prior to pick up, so around late July 2011 for picking up in the second week of September.

With DriveNow you get to compare the latest New Zealand Rugby World Cup Motorhome Rental rates from leading suppliers including Britz, Apollo, Maui, Kea Campers and Backpacker Campervan Rentals, all on the one website, not only finding the best deals available but also saving you time and effort in internet surfing.

2011 New Zealand Rugby World Cup Schedule

Pool A
New Zealand
France
Tonga
Canada
Japan

Pool B
Argentina
England
Scotland
Georgia
Play-off Winner

Pool C
Australia
Ireland
Italy
Russia
USA

Pool D
South Africa
Wales
Fiji
Samoa
Namibia

All Games Played on North Island in –

Auckland
Hamilton
Napier
New Plymouth
Rotorua
Wellington
Whangarei

All Games played on South Island except the last 3

North Island
Auckland
Palmerston North

South Island
Christchurch
Invercargill
Dunedin

Games split between South and North Islands

North Island
Auckland
New Plymouth
Rotorua
Wellington

South Island
Christchurch
Nelson

All Games Played on North Island

Auckland
Hamilton
New Plymouth
Rotorua
Wellington


Date

Pool

Countries

Location

9 September A New Zealand v Tonga Auckland – Eden Park
10 September B Scotland v Play-off Winner Invercargill – Rugby Park Stadium
10 September D Fiji v Namibia Rotorua – Rotorua International Stadium
10 September A France v Japan Auckland – North Harbour Stadium
10 September B Argentina v England Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
11 September C Australia v Italy Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
11 September C Ireland v USA New Plymouth – Stadium Taranaki
11 September D South Africa v Wales Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
14 September D Samoa v Namibia Rotorua – Rotorua International Stadium
14 September A Tonga v Canada Whangarei – Northland Events Centre
14 September B Scotland v Georgia Dunedin – Carisbrook
15 September C Russia v USA New Plymouth – Stadium Taranaki
16 September A New Zealand v Japan Hamilton – Waikato Stadium
17 September B Argentina v Play-off Winner Invercargill – Rugby Park Stadium
17 September D South Africa v Fiji Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
17 September C Australia v Ireland Auckland – Eden Park
18 September D Wales v Somoa Hamilton – Waikato Stadium
18 September B England v Georgia Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
18 September A France v Canada Napier – McLean Park
20 September C Italy v Russia Nelson – Trafalgar Park
21 September A Tonga v Japan Whangarei – Northland Events Centre
22 September D South Africa v Namibia Auckland – North Harbour Stadium
23 September C Australia v USA Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
24 September B England v Play-off Winner Dunedin – Carisbrook
24 September A New Zealand v France Auckland – Eden Park
25 September D Fiji v Samoa Auckland – Eden Park
25 September C Ireland v Russia Rotorua – Rotorua International Stadium
25 September B Argentina v Scotland Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
26 September D Namibia v Wales New Plymouth – Stadium Taranaki
27 September A Canada v Japan Napier – McLean Park
27 September C Italy v USA Nelson – Trafalgar Park
28 September B Georgia v Play-off Winner Palmerston North – Arena Manawatu
30 September D South Africa v Samoa Auckland – North Harbour Stadium
1 October C Australia v Russia Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
1 October A France v Tonga Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
1 October B England v Scotland Auckland – Eden Park
2 October B Argentina v Georgia Palmerston North – Arena Manawatu
2 October A Canada v New Zealand Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
2 October D Fiji v Wales Hamilton – Waikato Stadium
2 October C Ireland v Italy Dunedin – Carisbrook
8 October QF1 W Pool C v RU Pool D Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
8 October QF2 W Pool B v RU Pool A Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
9 October QF3 W Pool D v RU Pool C Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
9 October QF4 W Pool A v RU Pool B Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
15 October SF1 Winner QF1 v Winner QF2 Auckland – Eden Park
16 October SF2 Winner QF3 v Winner QF4 Auckland – Eden Park
21 October Bronze Final Auckland – Eden Park
23 October Final Auckland – Eden Park
Jun
02
2010

How Does the Green Machine Roll on?

By

NOT so long ago the Toyota Prius was the only option available to environmentally conscious car renters in their bid to fly the “green” flag. But in the words of a legendary singer/songwriter, those times are “a-changing”.

Much has happened since the Prius reached Australian shores in 2000, but the choice of “affordable” hybrids has broadened only marginally with Honda’s Civic and the much-vaunted release of Toyota’s Camry Hybrid in February.

Rental companies traditionally have kept the Prius as their green vehicle of choice and this is still very much in vogue. However, the popularity of the Camry brand and its larger capacity will drive change within rental green fleets. Only Hertz offers the Hybrid Camry on their books, but watch this space as other rental companies come into play in the near future.

As the Hybrid show rolls on, manufacturers of traditional carbon-fuelled vehicles have not merely been sitting idle. A new generation of small compact cars has emerged to dominate the Low Carbon Emission charts and become increasingly popular on the world’s roads. In fact, a quick glance at the Australian Government’s Green Vehicle Guide website (www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au) reveals that of the Top 10 Performer spots only two, the Prius and Camry Hybrid, are hybrid-based. All the other vehicles are 100% petrol-based.

Before we get too carried away with the idea that petrol vehicles “out-green” the hybrids, there are those little matters of engine and vehicle size to consider. The non-hybrid entries in the Top 10 Green list all have smaller engines than their Hybrid cousins and all are smaller cars. Interestingly, the popular Volkswagen Golf Trendview has emerged recently to slip into ninth position right behind the Hybrid Camry, and another 1.4-litre vehicle to hit the Top 10 is Alfa’s Mito. However, the top end of the Top 10 is dominated by small cars with the smallest engines; in fact, No.2 on the list is one of the world’s smallest cars, Mercedes Smart Fortwo, with a 1-litre engine and room for 2 and no more.

This engine and vehicle size does appear to limit their appeal in Australia. This is evident when you switch across and view the greenvehicleguide’s top 10 best sellers list, headed by the Holden Commodore at a commendable 4 stars – given we are talking about a 6 speed 3 litre full size family vehicle. The rest of the top 10 is dominated by 3 to 3.5 star vehicles with only the Toyota Yaris at number 10 coming in with 5 stars and sharing a top 10 ranking in both best Performers and best Sellers.

Clearly we have some way to go before these 2 top 10 lists overlap and it’s likely that the addition of the Camry Hybrid will go some way towards that in broadening the appeal of the Hybrid offering in family sized vehicles; however the price differential between Hybrid and pure petrol based cars still present challenges and this price difference is equally present in the rental market. It will be interesting to see whether the novelty in renting the new Camry Hybrid translates into a long term love affair with Australia’s travelling public. On a broader theme whether the Camry can become the first Hybrid to crack Australia’s top 20 best seller list remains to be seen.

DriveNow enables you to compare pricing on car and campervan rental across Australia and New Zealand. You can book the Toyota Camry Hybrid and other Hybrid rental vehicles by visiting www.drivenow.com.au.

ChrisC
DriveNow Partner and sometime Blog Contributor

May
11
2010

Great driving holidays – DriveNow is king of the road for campervan hire

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WE took advantage of the great deals offered through this super website for last minute campervan hire and did a test drive.

After an easy online booking process, and super deal thanks to the DriveNow gang, we and took one of Maui’s Jayco Conquest campervans for a spin to Adelaide. Peter and I have come to the conclusion www.drivenow.com.au offers the best way to test drive a motorhome (or campervan) without going all out and buying one up front. You know what? it’s actually better than hiring a car and staying in motels and I will even go a stretch further to say it’s tonnes better!

In the Maui you can cruise along and stop wherever you want, thanks to the fact the vehicle comes complete with full bathroom, so there’s no need to be hang on until you get to the next town! It’s such a breeze and so much more comfortable.

One afternoon, after a late night, I decided I needed a nap in the afternoon, so we pulled off just before Bordertown in South Australia and took a nap in the rest area. And a comfy one at that! All snuggled up in bed. You really can’t beat that.

Sheree sat out under the awning with a book and a cup of coffee and took in the views for an hour or so while our son Boston and I slept. In that sense it’s an even safer option than hiring a car and choosing to stay in hotels/motels. The best aspect for me and Sheree, as parents, is the fact you have a fully operational bathroom. On two of the nights we were very late getting into our stop, so we had a dinner stop and showered Boston and got him ready for bed and he fell asleep in his car seat. When we arrived, we simply just popped him into his bed. So quick and so very easy!

The Maui motorhomes are really easy to drive, too. You only need a normal car licence and, honestly, they are incredibly user friendly. Don’t be put off by their size because when you are on the road, you don’t feel any different. The Maui campervans are easy to reverse as they have full reversing cameras so even first-timers will think its a breeze! Better still, they are automatic too.

I’ve decided we would not travel any other way, especially on long trips and travelling with the kids! So don’t do car and motel – do a campervan and give DriveNow a spin to experience it first before you buy!

PETER “SPIDA” EVERITT
The Great Australian Doorstep Series 3 is now on Channel 7TWO.

Apr
17
2010
no image added yet.

What is ANCAP and how does it work?

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They say it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, but there’s another cliché that should ring true: don’t judge a car by the number of airbags.

Almost all new cars on sale in Australia today have airbags but, despite these worthwhile safety features, crash protection varies markedly from model to model.

Of course, all cars must meet a minimum crash safety standard set by the Federal Government, but the emphasis there is the word “minimum”. The regulations regarding crash protection have not been revised in more than a decade.

This is part of the reason the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) was established.

Funded by the motoring clubs and state government authorities in Australia and New Zealand, ANCAP aims to improve vehicle safety by independently testing, assessing and then rating the safety of new cars.

The idea was a world first. ANCAP was established in 1992. Euro NCAP, which follows the same procedures and protocols, was established in 1997. ANCAP has no power to approve – or ban – vehicles from sale. But it has become a priceless consumer guide that could save your life.

Before ANCAP, and its associated authority, Euro NCAP, trying to compare the safety of like vehicles was pure guesswork. Rather than simply saying a car “passes” the minimum Federal Government regulations, ANCAP gives car buyers more detail on how each vehicle’s crash worthiness compares.

For those who want to know the finer points of difference, ANCAP scores the cars out of 35 points and the data can be found on the ANCAP website, www.ancap.com.au. But generally, most people judge a car by ANCAP’s simple star rating, from one to five.

Originally, ANCAP said a car with a one star rating was deemed as having an “unacceptable” risk of injury, the safety of two star cars were regarded as “poor”, three stars cars were regarded as “marginal”, four stars were “acceptable” and five stars were “good”. But following pressure from the car industry ANCAP dropped the names and retained only the star ratings.

ANCAP has not been without its controversy. Car makers initially opposed ANCAP’s findings and methods. The manufacturers said they tested cars for the real world, that it was unfair to judge a car based on one test, and that the ANCAP tests were too severe.

One of the claims made by some car makers during this debate in the late 1990s was that designing a car to achieve a high score could make the car too rigid for lower speed crashes, and potentially cause injuries. This was found not to be the case. Indeed, cars as small as the Fiat 500 are now capable of achieving a five-star rating.

Further, subsequent studies have shown that cars with four stars or above have significantly lower deaths and serious injuries. Over the past 10 years resistance to ANCAP has subsided, as the safety of each manufacturer’s cars has improved. Indeed, some of the most vocal opponents of ANCAP now use the five star results in their advertising and promotional material.

There is no doubt that ANCAP and its affiliates have markedly improved the safety of new vehicles, more so than any government agency or regulation. Indeed, government regulations are only just beginning to catch up to ANCAP.

ANCAP announced that from the beginning of 2008 only cars with stability control would be eligible for a five star safety rating.  The Federal Government recently announced this technology will be compulsory on all new passenger cars introduced from November 2011 onwards, and all other new passenger cars have until November 2013 to have the technology fitted as standard.

How ANCAP testing compares…

Australian government regulations require passenger cars to be crash tested into an offset barrier at 56km/h and light commercial vehicles to be crash tested into a full frontal barrier at 48km/h. ANCAP crash tests all vehicles at 64km/h into an offset barrier.

ANCAP also tests side impact protection and cars with side and/or curtain airbags typically do well. Cars without side and/or curtain airbags typically show life-threatening injuries. In the side impact test, a 950kg sled designed to simulate another vehicle strikes the driver’s side at 50km/h. To qualify for the full five star rating, the car also has to pass a side pole test where the car is pushed sideways into a rigid pole at 29km/h.

Recent results have included pedestrian tests. These are a series of tests carried out to replicate crashes involving child and adult pedestrians where impacts occur at 40km/h.
Contributed by NRMA Insurance

About NRMA Insurance
NRMA Insuranceis a provider of insurance products, including car insurance and home insurance in NSW, ACT & TAS.

Mar
19
2010
no image added yet.

The A-Z of booking a Self-Drive Campervan Rental in Australia

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What to Hire, from Who and How?

Introduction:

The first thing to say about self-drive holidays in Australia is that you have a wealth of choice to select from as well as a vast country to explore. Given that Australia is roughly the same size as continental USA with a population less than Texas there is plenty of empty space and a country widely diverse in climate and terrain to discover.

Australia is fortunate to be home to some of the World’s leading Campervan rental companies offering a wide range of vehicles from adventurous four wheel drives to luxurious Motorhomes.

Long gone are the days when a Campervan holiday involved cramped beds, awkward bathroom facilities, limited cooking options and generally a step away from home comforts. Today’s vehicles have evolved to offer European styled kitchens, spacious air-conditioned living areas with audio-visual equipment, large double beds and well-equipped bathrooms. What’s more they are surprisingly easy to drive with no special licensing requirements other than holding a full driving license and over the age of 21 (with some exceptions).

Power steering, automatic transmissions and modern design have taken the hard work out of travelling in a vehicle larger than most of us regularly drive.

Finding & Booking … How?

Most of the leading rental firms have online booking facilities and in some instances reservations can be made through your local travel agent. However as alternative option, we would suggest visiting drivenow.com.au, a website dedicated to pulling information together on the top Australian (and New Zealand) rental suppliers. In addition to being able to compare rates and vehicles from competing rental companies the website also offers:

  • Latest Discounted Rate Comparisons
  • Early Bird and Long Term Rental Discounting
  • Vehicle Rental Company profiles
  • Rental branch locations and services provided
  • Detailed Vehicle descriptions and specifications
  • Fleet comparisons
  • Insurance detail options
  • Travel information

DriveNow is focused on doing all the leg work for prospective road travellers in Australia and New Zealand to ensure that you have all the information required to compare and select the vehicle that most suits your travelling needs.

Rental Companies … Who to use?

There are many high quality rental companies in Australia, some are highly specialised and offer services in particular states or cities whilst others are national and operate across all states and territories. The top 5 in terms of size, range of fleet, widest choice of branch locations and quality of service are:

Vehicle Definitions … What’s in a Name?

The term Campervan, Motorhome, RV (Recreational Vehicle) and even 4 WD Campervans are all often inter-used to describe the same vehicle. Whilst there are exceptions a set of rule-of-thumb definitions could include:

  • Motorhome
    Generally top end luxury vehicles on a long-wheel base and provide the most generous living space and facilities.
    These range from 2 to 6 berth vehicles and come equipped with European styled kitchen appliances, comprehensive bathroom facilities, full reverse cycle air-conditioning, LCD televisions, DVD players and in some instances even Playstations.
  • Campervans
    Campervans cover largely 2, 2.5 (2 adults & 1 child) and 3 berth vehicles. Today many of these are equipped with bathroom and complete kitchen facilities and often TVs & DVD players. Most have air-conditioning and heating in the Driving and Living cabins.
  • Recreational Vehicles (RVs)
    North American term to describe both the above sets of vehicles, although in the US the size of RVs can far exceed Australian models.
  • 4WD Campervans
    4 Wheel Drive Campervans are designed on their namesakes, the most popular of which is the Toyota Land-Cruiser. Whilst limited in internal features (generally bedding for two) these often provide additional external sleeping through tent extensions and some can accommodate up to 5 travellers. Vehicles are all Diesel with manual transmissions and generally long-range fuel tanks.

Campervan Classes … What’s the difference?

  • 6 Berth Motorhome6 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Top end luxury vehicles, generally largest in a suppliers fleet with 3 double beds, comprehensive kitchen, onboard shower & Toilet facilities and Air-Conditioning/heating. Large entertainment area and audio visual equipment often includes LCD TV & DVD players. Turbo Diesel engines with manual and auto transmissions depending upon supplier. Examples include the Britz Frontier and Apollo Euro Deluxe Motorhomes.
  • 4 Berth Motorhome 4 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Luxury vehicles with 2 double beds comprehensive kitchens, generous entertainment area, Air-Conditioning/heating and onboard shower & Toilet facilities.Often equipped with LCD TV & DVD players. Turbo Diesel engines with manual and auto transmissions depending upon supplier. Examples include KEA Campers 4 berth and Maui Motorhomes Spirit 4.
  • 3 Berth Motorhome3 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Luxury 3 berth (1 x double & 1 x single) with comprehensive kitchen, onboard shower & Toilet, Air-Conditioning/heating and audio visual equipped. Turbo Diesel engines with manual transmission. Examples include Apollo’s Cruiser.
  • 3 Berth Campervan3 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Accommodation for 2 adults & 1 child, Cooker, Fridge and sink (hand pump), no onboard bathroom facilities, Air-Conditioning/heating in Driver’s cabin. Unleaded Petrol engines with manual transmissions. Examples include Backpacker’s Nomad and Apollo’s Hitop campervan.
  • 2 Berth Motorhome2 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Luxury vehicle, 1 double bed, comprehensive kitchen and onboard shower & Toilet facilities, Air-Conditioning/heating and often equipped with LCD TV & DVD players. Turbo Diesel engines with manual transmissions. Examples include KEA’s ST/TV and Maui’s Spirit 2 T/S.
  • 2 Berth Campervan2 Berth Motorhome Rental Comparisons
    Widest choice of vehicles, 1 Double Bed, well equipped kitchen, usually with onboard shower & Toilet facilities. Turbo Diesel and unleaded Petrol engines with manual transmissions depending upon supplier. Examples include BackPacker Wanderer and Britz Elite.
  • 4 Wheel Drive Campervans4 Wheel Drive Campervan Rental Comparisons
    Often equipped with sleeping accommodation onboard for 2, 4WD Campervans also supplement their sleeping quarters with tents. In the case of the Britz Toyota Adventurer this takes the form of the quirky Dome tent that sits atop of the vehicle. Vehicles largely based on the Toyota Land Cruiser short and long wheel base, Turbo diesel engines with manual transmission and often equipped with long-range fuel tanks – 135 litres. Examples include Apollo’s 2 Berth Adventure and the KEA Camper 3 Berth Pop-Top 4WD Campervan.

Selecting a Vehicle … What’s right for me?

In selecting the right vehicle for your holiday there are certain key considerations to make including:

  • Number of Travellers
  • Age of Travellers
  • Travel Itinerary
  • Budget
  • Time of Year
  • Style of Holiday

Obviously the number of passengers is going to dictate the type and size of your vehicle. But it’s also worth checking out the sleeping configuration of each vehicle.  For instance in many instances the 6 berth luxury Motorhomes have 3 x double beds and whilst perfect for 3 couples or young families it would not necessarily work for a group of friends or family with large number of adolescent children.

For those looking to have all the mod-cons whilst on the road then the Motorhome range of vehicles will fit the bill with accommodation starting from 2 berth up to the aforementioned 6 berths. These will provide the most leg-room, fittings, furnishings and bathroom facilities. Remember that many of the electrical appliances (including auxiliary Air-conditioning/hearting) will only operate when the vehicle’s power cable is connected to the mains (most Holiday Parks in Australia will offer this facility).

For those who are happy to live without some onboard facilities then the range of Campervans, of which the most popular and widest choice are the 2 (+1 child) berth will be ideal and easier on the pocket.

If you’re travelling on a budget and require 2 or 3 berths look for the Cheapa Campa from Apollo and Backpacker Campervan Rental options. Though often you will be surprised at the prices and deals available so comparing all your options is highly recommended.

If you plan to take your vehicle off the bitumen then the 4 Wheel Drive is the only option to look at and you must let the rental company know of your plans when you pick up the vehicle. In parts of Outback Australia you are required to have a permit to enter Aboriginal Lands and depending upon the season some areas are closed due to climatic conditions. The 4 Wheel Drive option caters for 2 travellers through to parties of 5 with tents – so very flexible.

Depending upon the time of year and where you wish to travel, it’s worth booking well in advance. In the Southern states in summer, particularly around Christmas, Motorhomes book out fast and well in advance. Conversely in the Winter period – June through August – Northern Queensland and the Top End – Darwin and the Northern Territory become popular.

If you have younger children or infants that require booster and/or baby seats check on the DriveNow website as to whether your vehicle of choice accommodates them.

DriveNow allows you to book well in advance so once you have your travel dates locked in it’s highly recommended to lock in your vehicle of choice to avoid disappointment and higher rates that generally come around the closer you get to popular travel times. Another advantage of booking early are the Early Bird rates. Most of DriveNow ‘s Campervan partners offer aaded discounts to rentals that are booked 6+ months in advance.

ChrisC
DriveNow Partner and sometime Blog Contributor

Nov
27
2009
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Using Australian Toll Roads when Hiring a Car

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It’s a sign of the times when just about every major city in Australian today has road tolls in one shape or other, generally on the most useful roads & freeways.  If you’re an inter-state or overseas traveller with a hired car then paying for these tolls needs to be done within a certain time frame of travelling to avoid penalties, not only imposed by the Toll Service but also rental car provider.

A Quick Guide to Australian Road Tolls:

Sydney:

Sydney operates one of the most extensive networks of Toll Roads and Bridges in Australia. All use electronic e-tags and only 4 – the Eastern Distributor, M4, M5 and M2 – offer cash booths. Travelling without a Toll Pass incurs fees from the Toll Operator and in the case of a hired car from the Car Rental Company as well, so it pays to plan ahead.

Service Toll Charged Toll Type
Cross City Tunnel – Main tunnel Both directions Fixed fee
Cross City Tunnel – Sir John Young Cres North bound Fixed fee
Eastern Distributor North bound Fixed fee
Lane Cove Tunnel Both directions Fixed fee
M2 – North Ryde Both directions Fixed fee
M2 – Pennant Hills Road Both directions Fixed fee
M4 Both directions Fixed fee
M5 Both directions Fixed fee
M7 Both directions Distance travelled
Military Road E-Ramps Both directions Fixed fee
Sydney Harbour Bridge South bound Time of Day
Sydney Harbour Tunnel South bound Time of Day

As a visitor to Sydney or infrequent user of the toll roads you can register with the New South Wales Road Traffic Authority for an E-Toll pass to pay any toll fees across the state. These are valid for between 1-14 days. For durations longer than 14 days a second pass will need to be obtained.

You can register for a pass online at the NSW RTA website (www.rta.nsw.gov.au/myrta/myetoll/index.html), via phone on 13 18 65 or at any RTA Registry. Registration can either occur before or up to 48 hours after your trip.

When registering a hired car for an E-Toll pass ensure you advise the RTA of the rental company name and the expected start and end dates & times of your Toll trips. This is to eliminate any chance of you being charged by another renter using the vehicle on the same day.

Sydney Toll Roads and Rental CarsTo qualify for the E-Toll pass you need to travel in the designated ‘e’ pass lane when passing through the Toll Booths.  Your number plate will be photographed and matched to your pass registration.

If you do not travel through the designated lane or travel without a Pass a Toll Notice will be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle. This notice is the full Toll and includes an additional $10 administration charge. If the vehicle has been hired the Car Rental company will likely charge you its own administration fee ($50 is not unheard of) in addition to the RTA costs.

Melbourne:

In Melbourne CityLink operate Toll Services from the Tullamarine Freeway, across the Bolte Bridge, through the Burnley and Domain Tunnels that link the South-Eastern suburbs with the West Gate Bridge and Tullamarine Freeway, and a short stretch of road into Exhibition Street on the Southern side of the CBD.

So, if you have picked up a rental car at Melbourne airport and are heading into the city or southern suburbs the likelihood of using CityLink is high. There are a number of different payment options for casual users which can be pre-purchased over the phone including a 24 hour, Weekend or ‘Tulla’ Pass.

  • The 24 Hour Pass commences when you first use Citylink on your nominated day.
  • The Weekend Pass covers you from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday.
  • The Tulla Pass covers travel between Flemington and Bulla Road in either direction

You can also purchase these passes on the CityLink website (citylink.com.au) , via phone on 13 26 29, at the Post Office or selected newsagencies up to 3 days after you travelled.

Failure to pay within the specified time incurs a Late Toll Fee that is charged to the owner of the vehicle and in the case of a rental company you may incur additional administration fees from them.

Brisbane:

In Brisbane, Toll Services are concentrated south of the city and to the east running north of the airport and south across the Gateway Bridge to feed into the Pacific Highway and Gateway Extension Motorway.

Toll Services operate on the following and all operate under a fixed fee system:

  • Gateway Bridge
  • Gateway Motorway
  • Gateway Extension Motorway
  • Logan Motorway

Future plans include the Northern Link extending the Western Freeway into Brisbane inner city Bypass (2014) and the new M7 Motorway (2012) with the CLEM7 section including the 5km city tunnel to be opened in 2010. Another project due for completion next year is the Go Between Bridge linking Southern Brisbane with Milton.

Tolls for the CLEM7 and the Go Between Bridge connection will be published closer to the opening of the service in 2010.

On the Logan and Gateway Motorways tolls can be paid using the viavideo pass system (govia.com.au). Passes can be purchased by credit card or cash.

Credit Card – once pre-registered your credit card will be debited with tolls incurred during your nominated travel period (1 to 30 days).  Alternatively you can pay up to 3 days after your trip.

Purchase via:

Cash – a choice of viavideo passes allow you to pay for single, return or multi-travel journeys. Multi-travel passes come in pre-set denominations of $3, $5, $10, $15, $20, $25, $30 and $50.  Unused credit on cash passes will expire if not used within 30 days and no refunds or transfers are available.

Purchase via:

  • Participating go Via Retailers
  • Customer Service Centres

Finally, if you are travelling in your own vehicle and have a e-tag from your home city it is likely that this will be accepted by Toll Operators in other Australian cities and therefore there is no need to purchase a pass. Visit the Operators’ websites to confirm this before travelling.

ChrisC
DriveNow Partner and sometime Blog Contributor

Nov
20
2009

Driving and Mobile Phones – New Victorian State Regulations

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As with most countries, the holding and use of a mobile phone whilst driving has been banned in Australia for a number of years, with 3 License demit points and a fine for those caught doing so.

However, it is still an every day occurrence and common sight on Australian roads today.  VicRoads, the Victorian Road Authority, reports that you are 4 times likely to be involved in an accident when using a mobile phone and a staggering 23 times more likely if texting.

The Victorian Government has decided to get tough on this issue and has introduced Australia’s most stringent regulations governing the use of Mobile phones, GPS units, Televisions etc whilst driving.  These new regulations came into effect on 9th November 2009 in Victoria and include the following:

  • You cannot use your mobile phone unless it is secured in a commercially designed Car Kit or it can be operated without actually touching it (i.e. you have a Blue Tooth hands free kit)
  • You can use earpieces connected to the phone via a cord as long as you do not press any buttons on the phone or touch the phone
  • You can only use your phone in a Car Kit to make and receive calls or play music
  • You cannot use your mobile phone for any other function such as texting, video calls or email
  • Learners and P1 Drivers cannot use a mobile phone in any way whilst driving
  • Holding or sitting your mobile on your knee or lap is prohibited. (simply put if you’re driving don’t touch your mobile phone at all)
  • A GPS unit can only be used if it is an integrated part of the vehicle design or secured in a commercially designed car kit.
  • Any Television or other Visual Display Unit cannot be operated if it visible to the Driver or is likely to distract another driver.

A good point to note that being stuck in a traffic jam or at traffic lights constitutes as driving therefore all the above continues to apply.

One of the times when you are more likely to step outside regulations such as these is where you are out of your normal driving environment, for example when hiring a car. Fortunately Car Manufactures and Car rental companies are coming to the rescue on this front.

Once the domain of luxury foreign imports, over the last couple of years more manufacturers are including embedded Blue Tooth functionality into a wider range of vehicles. As rental companies update their fleets, these Blue Tooth equipped cars are becoming more readily available for hire. It’s simply a case of pairing your phone with your vehicle when you pick it up.

ChrisC
DriveNow Partner and sometime blog contributor

Sep
02
2009
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They don’t build ’em like they used to… A Guide to Old Car Safety

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They don’t build ’em like they used to. That’s how old cars are generally described. Tough as nails, made of steel. New cars just fall apart in a crash, so the saying goes.

But contrary to perception, there is a very good reason new cars deform more readily in a crash: it can save your life.

Consider this: when an old car has a front end crash, the structure won’t be crushed as much as a modern car’s would, which means the occupants experience a more sudden rate of deceleration, and potentially more life threatening injuries.

The front end of a modern car is designed to collapse in a crash, to help absorb some of the impact. This slows the rate of deceleration on the occupants inside the car and, hopefully, helps prevent life threatening injuries.

The dramatic improvement in the crash safety of cars over the past 30 years or more is just one of the reasons young novice drivers are over-represented in fatal crashes. Our most inexperienced drivers are often in the oldest and less safe cars on the road, which lack the latest safety aids such as seatbelt pre-tensioners, airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control.

Crash statistics show that you are up to 10 times more likely to die if you are in a 1970s car than a modern vehicle.

Of course, not everyone can afford a new car with the latest safety features. But there are steps you
can take to make your older car as safe as possible
. A lot of the following will sound like common sense, but it’s surprising how many of the basics are forgotten or overlooked.

  • Tyres are more important than most people give them credit for. We tend to buy tyres on price but given that they are the only point of contact between you and the road they deserve more attention. When replacing tyres, try to get the best you can afford, and avoid retreads if at all possible. Don’t drive on tyres with an illegal tread depth, not just because your car could be defected by police, but because you could crash and kill or injure yourself or someone else. Wet weather grip is severely diminished when tyres are going bald because the tread can’t “pump” the water between tyre and the road. Regularly check that your tyres are correctly inflated.
  • Good maintenance is also key, and you want to ensure the brake pad material is no more than half worn. If so, prepare to replace them, as the second half of the pad wears faster than the first half.
  • If the car bounces over potholes or takes a while to recover after driving over speed humps, chances are the shock absorbers need replacing. Worn shock absorbers can cause wheel bounce (which means the tyre can lose contact with the road) and increase emergency braking distances.
  • In old cars in particular, check the seatbelts are not frayed or faded, as they may tear in a severe impact.
  • Also get a mechanic to check under the car for structural rust, which can make the car less safe in a crash.
  • Perhaps most important of all is to adjust your driving style so that you reduce the risk of crashing in the first place. Allow for greater distances between you and the car in front, and take corners more slowly than you would in a modern car.

Ideally, you don’t want to crash in an old car because there is less to protect you. There is a hard plastic horn pad in the middle of the steering wheel where an airbag ought to be. And solid roof pillars where side airbags ought to be.

It’s often said in jest but, really, you should drive as if there is a steel spike in the steering wheel. That ought to help you concentrate.

About NRMA Insurance

NRMA Insurance is a provider of insurance products, including car insurance and home insurance in NSW, ACT & TAS.

Aug
07
2009

What can Ethanol and Biodiesel Deliver for Australia today?

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A Guide to … Ethanol and Biodiesel….NRMA unravels some of the mysteries of Ethanol fuel alternatives and changes we’ll see at the Australian Fuel Pump
 

Ethanol-blended fuel is being touted as an antidote to rising petrol prices and diminishing oil supplies. While it has its merits in some applications it is by no means a magic solution to the car world’s energy woes.

Most ethanol produced in Australia is derived from the waste of sugar cane, corn and grain crops. There are also studies underway to try to make ethanol from municipal waste which, if successful, could reduce the amount of landfill. For now though, ethanol is derived from grain based crops.

Because of ethanol’s high alcohol content it can be used as a fuel in most modern car engines. In Australia, many petrol stations now offer fuel that is a blend of 10 per cent ethanol and 90 per cent regular unleaded (E10). Indeed, the NSW government has mandated that E10 will replace regular unleaded by 2010.

Many motorists are initially attracted to E10’s cheaper price, but is it a false economy? Ethanol has 34 per cent less energy than unleaded petrol. While the octane rating of E10 is similar to premium unleaded (94 to 95 octane) it does not have the same energy density. In other words, you have to burn more to get the same amount of energy as regular fuel.

So that means a tankful of E10 petrol will not get you as far as a tankful of regular petrol, which in many cases negates the modest cost saving.

Generally speaking, most cars that run on regular unleaded can run on E10, but if in doubt contact a mechanic or check with a dealer that services your brand of car.

car-fuel-alternativesA small number of E85 outlets have begun to appear in Australia. As the name implies, this is fuel with an 85 per cent blend of ethanol and 15 per cent regular unleaded. Car engines must be modified and specifically designed to run on this fuel. To date only Saab has engines which can run on E85 in Australia. More are expected to follow.

The Australian V8 Supercar motorsport championship also switched to E85 in 2009 and the teams anticipate the race cars will be required to make two extra pit stops (from six to eight) to complete the distance in the famous Bathurst 1000 race in October.

Ethanol-blended fuels don’t like starting in cold weather (below 11 degrees Celsius) and in Sweden where E85 is popular, fuel companies produce E75 during winter.

Australia was the 10th biggest producer of ethanol in the world last year, largely thanks to the Federal Government’s Ethanol Production Grants. The program commenced on 18 September 2002 and is available to ethanol producers until 30 June 2011.

Ethanol Production Grants are paid to ethanol producers at a rate of 38.143 cents per litre. To claim the grant, ethanol must be produced entirely in Australia from biomass feedstock, which is to be used in, or as, a transport fuel in Australia.

In the same way ethanol is being blended with unleaded petrol to reduce the cost and dependence on oil supplies, vegetable oils are being blended with diesel to create bio-diesel.

In Australia, some oil companies offer diesel blended with 2 per cent vegetable oils (B2) and most diesel engines can run on this mix unaffected. Be sure to check with the manufacturer of your vehicle if in doubt, as biodiesel could affect any warranty claims regarding the engine and fuel system.

Indeed, the NSW Government has mandated all diesel fuel will be B2 biodiesel by the end of 2012.

A small number of outlets offer B5 (5 per cent bio-diesel) while B20 (20 per cent bio-diesel) is available to commercial operators by special arrangement. B2 diesel is not harmful to most diesel engines, but B5 and B20 is not suitable for some of the latest generation diesel engines from Europe.

Because of the chemical makeup of biodiesel, and the potential for separation over time of the mixture, biodiesel may not be suitable for vehicles that are used infrequently and sit idle for some months.