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DieselNewsZero emission engines begin full testing at dedicated liquid air R&D facility

Dearman, the clean cold technology company, has announced that full testing of its zero emission engine technology has begun at its new liquid air R&D facility.

The Dearman Technology Centre, located near Croydon, is the first dedicated liquid air engine facility of its kind. It houses a range of custom-built test cells, in which Dearman’s technologies will undergo extended durability testing and new applications will be developed.

When fully operational, the centre will enable the testing of four engines simultaneously, along with full system testing, supported by low-volume manufacturing and build capabilities.

Air quality will be a ‘game changer’ for EV uptake

Air quality issues across Europe will prove to be a game-changer for electric vehicles (EVs), according to Nissan.

Governments are looking at how they can mitigate the harmful effects of exhaust emissions, which include nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM10).

In the UK, London will launch the world’s first ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in 2020, requiring vehicles travelling in the congestion zone to meet new emission standards or pay a daily charge.

And, with other cities expected to follow London’s lead, Nissan EV director, Jean-Pierre Diernaz told Fleet News it will help drive the uptake of plug-in vehicles.

“Every single city is looking at something, whether now or in the near future, in terms of ultra-low emission zones,” he said. “This will be a massive problem for companies making deliveries in these cities and their solution will be e-mobility.”

Diernaz also argues that the potential impact on an individual’s health, rather than established concerns over global warming, will persuade more people and businesses to consider EVs.


HyundaiLogHyundai reveals Tuscon pricing

Hyundai has confirmed its Tuscson will be priced from £18,695 when it goes on sale in September.

The vehicle is powered by three engines – a 1.6-litre petrol which is offered in 132hp and 177hp formats, a 1.7-litre 116hp diesel and a 2.0-litre diesel with either 136hp or 185hp.

The most frugal models in the range are powered by the 1.7-litre diesel and emit 119g/km of CO2. Prices start from £20,195 for the model in the S trim level.

Five trim levels – S, SE, SE Nav, Premium and Premium SE – are offered. Standard equipment includes DAB radio with MP3 connectivity, Bluetooth, USB and Aux connections and automatic headlights with dusk sensors.

SE-line models add 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, a lane keeping assist feature and dual zone climate control, while SE Nav models get an eight-inch touchscreen and the firm’s Speed Limit Information System, which uses the car’s front camera and information from the navigation unit to identify road signs and display the speed limit in real time.

Premium models include 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, parking sensors, an autonomous emergency braking system, blind spot detection and heated rear seats, while the range-topping Premium SE model features keyless entry, Hyundai’s Smart Parking Assist System, an electric tailgate, LED headlights and a panoramic sunroof.

“The outgoing model, the ix35, is our second best-seller in the UK so far this year which just proves how critical this sector is for our brand – the Tucson will look to develop this success, thanks to its striking design and the enhanced level of technology and equipment it offers our customers,” said Tony Whitehorn, president of Hyundai UK.


WAI GlobalGarage dialogue with suppliers puts end to “price” concerns

The price of automotive components is less of an issue than ever before for garages buying from motor factors, according to a survey conducted by WAIglobal UK.

In a survey of AutoCare garages at the recent AutoCare show, held in Milton Keynes, garages said that “relationship”, “availability” and “customer / technical support” were their top three buying criteria, with “price” not only a distant fourth but hardly even mentioned.

Kevin Sharp, Sales and Marketing Director WAIglobal UK Ltd, said: “This is the third year in a row that “price” has not come in to the top three ‘buying criteria’ for AutoCare garages. While it should not be overlooked, it should actually serve as a warning to all in the supply chain, not to underestimate all the other more important requirements of its garage partner.”

Sharp added that the survey further confirmed the belief that the perceived cheap “prices” are being used as a tool to compensate for all the other shortcomings in the supply chain. “It is the belief of many in our trade that if all else fails a cheap price will suffice,” he said.

During many trade events and independent garage workouts, WAIglobal UK has identified that garages are feeling increasingly dis-engaged from their chosen supply partner. “It is important that both motor factors and suppliers recognise and understand what is needed to help drive a garage business forward. Being the cheapest is not fulfilling the garage’s requirements,” said Sharp.

The survey findings also underline WAIglobal UK’s mission over the past three years, which has been to place customer support, service and training packages at the top of its priority list, thus cementing long term relationships between supplier, motor factor and garage.

“WAIglobal UK, due to its truly global manufacturing facilities, can supply parts at market competitive prices, not to be confused with “cheapest”. But, it can also give the whole supply chain added value and margin potential by supporting the cradle to grave concept with customer support and training,” said Sharp.



Heightened by Government grants, the number of ultra-low emission plug-in vehicles in the UK has more than tripled over the past year.

According to the RAC Foundation, at the end of the first quarter there were 29,469 vehicles on the road in the UK that were eligible for grants, a rise of 37 per cent on the final quarter of last year and three times the number on Britain’s roads at the start of 2014.

Under existing schemes, buyers of plug-in hybrid cars and vans are eligible for a £5,000 and £8,000 grant respectively. Although the pace of increase is impressive, motoring groups are concerned this will slow should grants be withdrawn from plug-in vehicles.

‘For the time being that is still dependent on a government grant,’ said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation. ‘The challenge for manufacturers will be to offer economically attractive options when the grants get reined in.’

Electric vehicles are increasingly being viewed as the future of motoring as more manufacturers develop plug-in hybrid technologies that allow drivers to recharge their cars quicker and travel further. However, limited range and the cost of sophisticated batteries remain a hurdle that the industry must work to overcome.

Out of the 30.7m cars and 3.6m vans licensed in the UK, plug-ins only account for 0.09 per cent, or one in every 1,164 vehicles on the roads.

From a list of top 20 models compiled by the RAC Foundation, the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid has emerged as the best-selling, with 9,688 rolling off the forecourts in the first quarter, compared to 5,273 cars in the final three months of last year. The Mitsubishi was followed by the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3. Tesla, came in seventh in the RAC Foundation survey.



A rare meeting between rival self-driving cars on a Californian road almost ended in a crash, Reuters reports.

The robot cars, one made by Delphi Automotive and the other by Google, had their encounter on a busy road in Palo Alto.

The Google car reportedly pulled out in front of the Delphi vehicle. The abrupt action forcing it to abandon a lane change.

Neither car sustained any damage in the near miss.

The incident comes as Google’s purpose-built self-driving cars take to California highways to see how well they do when they mix with vehicles driven by humans.

Details of the incident were revealed by John Absmeier – director of Delphi’s autonomous car driving unit.

The vehicles involved were conventional road cars modified with lasers, radar, cameras and other sensors to help them navigate roads without a driver.

The incident occurred as the Delphi car, an Audi Q5, was preparing to change lanes. As it did so the Google car, a Lexus RX400h, abruptly moved in front of it forcing the Audi to abandon its manoeuvre.

The Delphi car coped well with the incident, said Mr Absmeier, and ‘took appropriate action’.

Google declined to comment on the near miss or the behaviour of its car.

Google and Delphi’s autonomous vehicles have been involved in several minor accidents and incidents during testing. However, before now all of those have involved the robot cars and human-driven vehicles. In almost all cases, the firms have said, the fault lay with human drivers.


FCAFCA’s Jeep delay highlights challenges to a potential merger

The chief of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep brand, Mike Manley, says a redesign of its Grand Cherokee SUV will be delayed by at least a year, intensifying the challenges FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne faces in his quest for a partner.

Manley confirmed FCA’s decision to push back the launch of a redesigned Grand Cherokee to late 2018 or to 2019 from late 2017. That delay is one of at least a dozen relating to current or new vehicles in North America.

FCA said the delays are not related to a shortage of money, but dealers could still wait longer for vehicles with fresh designs and technology at a time when rivals plan to launch new models at a faster pace, according to a Bank of America report which noted that the market share gains FCA has targeted “appear unlikely.”

FCA’s ability to keep up in an intensifying auto technology race is a critical question for potential merger partners, analysts and industry executives said.

Marchionne has reached out to General Motors CEO Mary Barra, proposing a merger. But Barra rebuffed him, saying earlier this month that GM could do better by “merging with ourselves” to improve economies of scale, respond to tougher fuel economy standards and meet consumer demand for digital connectivity and advanced safety features.

FCA would bring to any merger a U.S. model lineup that ranks last in fuel economy among major automakers, performs poorly in measures of quality, and has a higher than average dependence on consumers who rely on subprime loans, according to non-public data compiled by J.D. Power and reviewed by Reuters.

FCA’s Chrysler brand sold 26 percent of its vehicles using subprime financing. The industry average is 12.7 percent sales to subprime borrowers. FCA’s Jeep and Ram brands are both below that level.

FCA spent 1.5 percent of its annual revenue on research and development last year, compared with 4.8 percent for Ford Motor and 4.7 percent for GM, according to non-public data shown to Reuters by a source on condition of anonymity.

The automaker’s North American profit margins last year were 4 percent, roughly half of those reported by GM and Ford. FCA said it plans to boost North American margins to 5.5 percent to 6 percent this year, still below the levels its Detroit rivals are projecting.

The world’s No. 7 automaker lags its rivals in the race to hit the U.S. fuel economy target of 4.3 liters/100km (54.5 mpg U.S./65.45 mpg UK) by 2025. In 2014, FCA’s U.S. fleet averaged 11.1 liters/100km (21.1 mpg U.S./25.34 mpg UK), last among major automakers and nearly 8 miles per gallon behind the leading company, Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp.

Gualberto Raineri, FCA’s chief spokesman in North America, said the company has been confounding skeptics since Fiat took over management control of Chrysler in 2009. Paraphrasing the writer Mark Twain Raineri said: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

Marchionne has argued that global automakers must consolidate to shoulder the rising costs of investment for new technology. He said Wednesday FCA is making “huge progress,” but that progress “is costing us.”


HondaLogoNew retail display solution for UK Honda car dealerships

Honda is set to roll out a new retail display solution across its 163 car dealerships across the UK.

Created in partnership with marketing agency HRG, part of the global marketing and publishing services group Altavia, the display has been designed to deliver a heightened focal point for new vehicle launches within the showroom environment.

The branding and messaging of the display can be adapted in line with the needs of each launch, with high-gloss white steel frames, colour-changing LEDs, LCD TV screens and space for interchangeable vinyl graphics.

Dealer marketing strategy manager from Honda UK Matthew Jones said: “2015 is an exciting year for Honda that will see our entire range re-launched. We needed to reflect that step change, so required a new product zone that would massively enhance the showroom space.

“Clean and crisp, the new retail display creates a relaxing and enjoyable space for customers during their journey in-store, whilst also having vital product information at hand at the point-of-purchase and giving Honda maximum flexibility within the retail space – making it ideal for our dealerships and the launches of the new models.”

Sales and marketing director from HRG Russell Langridge said: “As Honda would say, ‘the road to better never ends’. We were intent on developing a display concept that would provide Honda will a truly adaptable retail solution to hero each new launch.

“The result is a central showroom focal point with strong visual standout for new vehicles that can be adapted for each launch easily, while emphasising the core brand identity and maintaining consistent standards of retail brand delivery.”


120413 PCP or HPA third of car finance checks show money still owed

32.17% of finance checks conducted by My Car Check in the first half of 2015 showed money was still owed on the car.

Percentage of My Car Check checks showing active finance agreements:

Jan 2015 40%
Feb 2015 31%
Mar 2015 33%
Apr 2015 29%
May 2015 29%
Jun 2015 31%
AVG 32.17%

Head of CDL Vehicle Information Services (which owns My Car Check) Roger Powell said: “While innocent purchasers can and do fall foul of traditional threats like clocking, there is at least a decent level of awareness about them. By contrast, there is a serious lack of awareness about the risk of buying a second hand car with second hand debt. We need to get the message out that outstanding finance is now by far the most common pitfall awaiting UK used car buyers.

“Certain types of agreements, such as the increasingly popular Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), usually involve the debt being secured against the vehicle, rather than the individual. This means a lot of the cars on our roads actually belong to a finance company, not the people who drive them. Attempting to sell a vehicle owned by a finance company, an activity called sub-hiring, is illegal, but very common. Some sellers do it knowingly. Others wrongly believe that everything will be fine if they keep up the payments. The crux for buyers is that the finance company can be within their rights to seize the vehicle back.

“For the price of a few litres of fuel, our finance data can be the difference between buying a vehicle completely legally and being left hugely out of pocket with no car to show for it. Particularly in the private marketplace, many sellers are keen to pass the problem on, having inadvertently taken on a car with second hand debt themselves.”


HandsFreeGovernment considers targeting hands-free phone use

A Government clampdown on the use of hands-free phones while driving could be considered in an effort to improve road safety.

That was the message from the Department for Transport at a debate held at Company Car in Action (CCIA).

Research has shown that using a hands-free phone while driving is more likely to lengthen reaction times than having 80mg of alcohol in the bloodstream – the drink-drive limit in England and Wales.

But while the Government has banned the use of handheld devices, drivers are free to use hands-free phones unless restricted by their employer.

Chris Woodward, strategic engagement manager for new driver policy and road safety strategy at the DfT, said: “It’s certainly something that’s being considered, but no policy direction has been firmly set.”

He added: “The Government that formed in May of this year is looking afresh at how to address road safety issues.

“Strategic direction is being discussed and developed currently, and the Government is looking at occupational road safety within its wider road safety review.”

However, he said that he would welcome the views of fleet decision-makers on what the Government and the DfT could be doing more to help them improve safety.

Ellie Pearson, senior professional engagement officer at Brake, said she would welcome a ban on hands-free phones, because it would take the onus away from fleets. “At present, a complete ban on phone use is fleet safety best practice, but only a small number of fleets take that step,” said Pearson.

“If the law changed to make it a legal requirement, all fleets would have to do it and it would take that responsibility away from the operator.”


VauxhallVauxhall launches OnStar connected vehicle technology in Europe

Vauxhall is launching its OnStar connected vehicle service in the UK this summer with a package which includes a high-speed 4G LTE mobile network, emergency response notification and stolen vehicle recovery technology.

The system will be available in selected models in Vauxhall’s passenger car range from August, as either standard or as a £395 option, and use of the service will be free to customers for the first year.

Once the free 12-month period is over, the OnStar services will cost £79 a year. Prices to continue using a car as a wi-fi hotspot – able to have seven devices connected to it simultaneously – have not been confirmed.

The first all-new Vauxhall to get OnStar will be the Astra which arrives in UK showrooms in October.


180213 WhatCarReleaseWhat car? research finds dealer discounts shrink in May

The average discount dealers are giving customers is shrinking during the sales boom.

That’s the result of research carried out by What Car? which found that year on year the average discount on new cars in May had shrunk 7.9% to £2,360.

Consumers on average now get a discount of 8.9% on their new car purchase compared to 10.14% a year ago, according to the research.

What Car? said this was happening because of the boom in new car sales with dealers better able to resist pressure to cut prices.

What Car? editor Jim Holder said: “Dealers need to turn a profit and, while demand remains high due to strong consumer confidence, they feel able to stand firm.

“A reduction in average discounts from £2,564 to £2,360 might not sound a lot, but it’s been a steady trend for a number of months now and consumers will have to get used to it.

The price rises have arrived even though UK inflation fell below zero last month.

But What Car? said despite fewer discounts, markdowns topping 20% can be negotiated on some models.

The largest reductions are negotiable on estate, executive and luxury models; attracting discounts of 10.5, 11.14, and 12.67% respectively.

Using new car prices to assess dealer profitability is useful but limited. This month Motor Trader reported that the profitability of the average dealer fell 66% in April to £3,000 compared to £9,000 a year ago.

The decline has further dented the average dealer rolling 12 month profits, which has now fallen for four consecutive months to just over £200,000, according to figures from dealer profitability specialist ASE.

ASE said the fall could be attributable to a decline in the performance of the vehicle sales department and decreases in overhead absorption as a result of increased costs.



A new survey reveals that millions of motorists are putting off vital repairs to their car or regular servicing because they can’t afford the garage bills. is warning penny-pinching drivers that ignoring essential repairs – such as replacing damaged tyres or faulty brakes could render their vehicle dangerous or illegal to drive.

Worryingly, the research revealed that potentially dangerous or illegal problems such as brake problems and worn-out or damaged tyres are not being addressed because of cost. 11% of drivers surveyed had delayed replacing tyres; seven per cent windscreen repairs; seven per cent engine-related or mechanical repairs and five per cent brake-related problems.

Just under a quarter (24%) of drivers say they have delayed their car’s annual service, driving on average an extra 1,600 miles over their car manufacturer’s recommended servicing mileage before getting their vehicle serviced. 24% of ‘service stretchers’ admitted to driving more than 2,000 miles over the recommended servicing mileage.

The survey found that drivers aged 35 to 44 are the most likely (34%) to put-off servicing their cars. Younger motorists in the 25 to 34 age band were the most likely to delay vital repairs – 21% said that they have delayed buying new tyres, 13% dealing with brake problems, 13% windscreen repairs and seven per cent clutch problems. Drivers aged 25 to 34 are also the most likely (22%) to ignore their car’s warning lights.

Other key findings from the survey of over 1,570 motorists:

• 11% of drivers have driven with one or more warning lights on because they didn’t have the money to get their car checked out;
• Only 61% of drivers understand all the dashboard display and warning lights on their vehicle, 25 to 34 year olds were the least knowledgeable with only 44% saying they knew what the various displays meant;
• The average cost of an annual car service, including parts and labour is £205. Motorists in London face the highest average bills (£283) and those in the North East the lowest (£135)
• Just 59% said they know what the service interval is on their car;
• Only 66% of drivers said that they have their car regularly serviced.


Posted by Sue Robinson on 03/07/2015