Posts Tagged ‘cars’
Volvo have gleefully announced their new “human machine interface” which will be shown off at the Geneva Motor Show.
You get a screen embedded into your dashboard which is divided into tiles. Most prominently, there’s information on navigation, media and stuff about your car and secondary features for messing about with your phone and the temperature of your vehicle.
Volvo say that this new dash ‘reduces visual noise’. To you, it looks like someone put a tablet in the dashboard, which is pretty snazzy.
Seems, thanks to a crackdown, your motor will now face INSTANT FAILURE when you get your MOT done thanks to those kindly souls at the Department for Transport.
Modern diesel cars are fitted with a DPF thanks to European rules which said we all had to filter nasty nonsense and reduce emissions. It’s good for the environment and good for your car tax.
Alas, these filters are expensive to maintain and they need replacing often. As such, some drivers have had the DPF removed. Now, if you don’t have the filter in, like you’re supposed to, MOT testing stations will have to fail your MOT. And then you’ll have to get one installed. And maintain it. It’s going to cost you a lot of money, basically.
Robert Goodwill, roads minister, said: “I am very concerned that vehicles are being modified in a way that is clearly detrimental to people’s health and undoes the hard work car manufacturers have taken to improve emissions standards. It has become apparent the government had to intervene to clarify the position on particulate filter removal given the unacceptable negative impact on air quality.”
“This change to the MOT tests makes it clear – if you have this filter removed from your car it will fail the test.”
Of course, the irritating thing is that DPFs don’t work properly unless you’re driving your car at a constant speed for around 20 minutes, as it needs to warm up. So even if you do have one and are only nipping to the shops and back, or in stop-start traffic a lot, it isn’t really helping the environment at all.
Not that this matters. The Department for Transport want you to have one and they won’t be budged.
Recently, HMRC announced that, to try and combat tax avoidance, they would start asking for contested tax up front while they decided whether the tax would end up being payable or not. Simple idea but possibly not-to-easy to enforce. We think HMRC are going about this all the wrong way. They need to take a leaf out of the books of an increasing number of tax authorities around the world and offer us, the people, high-end incentives to shop those not paying tax.
Portugal is the latest country to announce a ‘tax lottery’, where ordinary citizens can win a luxury car (unofficial estimated cost to the Portguese taxpayer, €90,000 each) simply by asking for a receipt for a cup of coffee or a haircut.
The black market in Portugal is, described as problematic (at almost a fifth of total output), with a great number of traders not registering with the tax authorities, and therefore never paying any tax. By incentivising customers to ask for an official receipt, complete with tax registration number, Portuguese revenue officials are confident the increase in receipts will more than outweigh the cost of the 60 cars a year being offered as prizes from April.
Tax experts say the measure is designed to appeal to Portugal’s penchant for gambling – the country is one of the biggest spenders per capita on EuroMillions, and to the social prestige attached to expensive cars. The fast lane on Portuguese motorways is sometimes nicknamed the “Mercedes lane”.
However, “If someone needs a plumber or an electrician, I suspect they’ll still be attracted by the discount resulting from not being charged VAT,” said John Duggan, a Portugal-based tax adviser, talking to the FT. “They’d be able to buy a lot of ordinary lottery tickets with the money they save,” he added sagely, charging €200 for this advice*
The idea is new to Portugal, but is not new around the world. A similar lottery run in the state of São Paulo in Brazil provided Portuguese inspiration and comparable schemes are used in Argentina, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Taiwan. It isn’t even the first such scheme in Europe, with Slovakia’s version offering cash and cars in a tax lottery being run sucessfully since last year.
So could we see National-Lottery-Style adverts from HMRC in future? It could be you driving a nice car for shopping your mechanic to the taxman. Better hope it doesn’t break down…
*not really. This is an accountant joke.
Say you have tons of annoying kids and you need to ferry them around all the time because they’re too young/lazy to learn to drive. You’re going to need a big car. But you can’t afford a new big car, so you have to buy a used big car. So which big used car are you going to buy?
Buying a used car is usually a nightmare involving Gumtree, general dodginess and having to talk to someone who looks like Frank Butcher in a freezing car lot. So Which! has decided to take some of the awfulness out of it and tell you the best model for the job.
Generally speaking, Japanese models are most reliable, with some scoring 90% in the Which! survey. And the winner is? The Toyota Prius – that most sensible and unsexy of hybrid cars. As well as being good for the environment, it’s so reliable that it has an annual repair bill of just £14 and a breakdown rate of only 5%.
Of course, you’ll also want to know which one is the stinker. That would be the Peugeot 407, which is the least reliable in the survey. Buy one of these and you can look forward to £391 worth of annual repair bills, as well as suspension faults, bad air conditioning and braking problems. In fact, the scrap yard is too good for it.
So now you know. When the kids grow up you can get a divorce and buy a Mazerati, but until then, you can get your kicks doing donuts round the Sainsbury’s car park in a used Prius. Exciting.
If you’re unlucky enough to find your car wheel-deep in floodwater, you would think your friendly breakdown service would give you a hand out of there. But er, no.
Drivers who’ve broken down on flooded roads have been finding themselves getting short shrift from breakdown companies, because quite a few of them don’t cover flood damage – instead they ask for a £150 fee to tow you away from the flow.
Scott Kelly from GoCompare warned: ‘Drivers need to be aware that the cover available from breakdown companies varies considerably. If you are unlucky enough to encounter flood water, don’t automatically assume your breakdown company will rescue you for free.’
Obviously, getting your car waterlogged is NOT GOOD, and it can completely bugger up your engine. And if this happens to you, you have to try and get the money back from the insurer – which will also bugger up your no claims bonus.
The advice is to check your policy for exclusions. Some policies, particularly with the AA, can be very vague – so go through it with a fine tooth comb, Or, if life is just too short, take the easiest option and switch to Green Flag. They’re the only major breakdown company that will fish you out for free – unless you’ve done a Jason Bourne and driven off a bridge into a deep river, in which case it’ll cost you. (If you’re not dead.)
The good news is their flood policies could change in the future. The RAC have already said it will scrap any fees for flood affected cars – and if the weather keeps getting worse, others will probably have to follow suit…
In Britain, it’s more expensive to run a car than anywhere else in the world. Yes, your little Honda Jazz costs more to run than Justin Beiber’s pimp mobile, or Bret Michaels’ souped up RV full of dirty ladies.
On average we pay £3453 a year to stay on the road, which is a grand more than the Americans and the French, and £2000 less than the Chinese, who are scooting about on the cheap and living it up.
Webuyanycar.com took motoring costs from 21 countries and found that we shell out 27p a mile on average – paying more for fuel, tax and insurance. And of course, the thing we’re spending the most on is petrol. A whopping £2256 a year goes on filling the damn thing up.
Only Denmark and Switzerland came close to our prohibitive car costs. But the cheapest place to run a car is Saudi Arabia, where it costs the princely sum of £237.32 a year to own a car. But of course, they do have all the oil. And women aren’t allowed to drive, so that cuts costs for the oppressed ladies straight away.
Do you want a depressing table of costs? Thought so. Happy motoring!
1. UK £3,453.66
2. Netherlands £3,370.42
3. Switzerland £3,321.80
4. Italy £2,966.69
5. Portugal £2,914.63
6. Germany £2,856.04
7. France £2,538.82
8. USA £2,425.36
9. Spain £2,421.87
10. New Zealand £2,387.20
11. Australia £2,128.24
12. Canada £1,828.65
13. India £1,805.94
14. Russia £1,727.82
15. Japan £1,628.38
16. China £1,315.12
17. South Africa £1,280.18
18. UAE 672.01
19. Qatar £527
20. Argentina £269.92
21. Saudi Arabia £237.22
Volvo have decided to put out an advert starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Of course, vaguely depressing, half-tragic figures from the 80s are making decent money through adverts at the moment, thanks to appalling cod-nostalgia and irony. Kevin Bacon has been on the box looking pristinely haggard, while Mr T likes Snickers.
JCVD has been promoting awful American beers thus far, but now, he’s showing off Volvo’s Dynamic Steering System with his legs.
Impressively, this stunt is real and a Volvo rep confirmed that the shot was done in just one take.
If you want to peer behind the curtain, Van Damme was protected by safety lines not visible in the final video and small platforms on the trucks’ mirrors helped prop his feet up. Other than that, what you see is a man doing the splits on two moving vehicles, for real.
Of course, Volvo could’ve gone with some cool, young ninja or something, and went for someone who hasn’t been cool for over 20 years, making them look a bit duddery. Either way, the end result is pretty badass.
According to MPs, motorists who appeal against what they believe to be an unjust parking ticket should still be given a 25% discount, even if they lose their appeal. This idea has come about in a bid to help drivers to feel more at ease when challenging tickets and would put an end to the process that gives you a discount for paying it immediately, whether you’re guilty or not.
There should also be a 5 minute ‘grace period’ before having a ticket slapped on the windscreen and that CCTV should be stopped from spying on motorists to stop everyone from being looked at like they’re ‘wallets n wheels,’ they added.
Not only that, we shouldn’t have to appeal against parking tickets where tribunal adjudicators have noticed repeat problems, such as poor signage and the like.
In essence, it looks like this is an attempt to put an end to cowboy councils and parking firms who are rinsing everyone. To bring some kind of fairness and transparency, councils could soon be asked to publish annual parking-charge reports to show where their income comes from and how it is being used, according to a report by the House of Commons’ Transport Select committee.
The use of parking charges and fines specifically to raise revenue is “neither acceptable nor legal”, said its chairman Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, who added: “There is a deep-rooted public perception that parking enforcement is used as a cash cow, so it’s essential that local authorities apply stringent transparency.”
“Annual parking accounts would allow the public to see how much local revenue is derived from the enforcement of fines, and what proportion of this come from on or off-street parking charges. It’s right that parking charges be determined locally, but hard to justify fines that substantially exceed penalties for more serious offences like speeding.”
“A 25 per cent penalty charge discount should also be introduced for motorists who pay within seven days of losing any appeal to a parking tribunal. Local authorities currently offer a 50 per cent discount if motorists pay their penalty charge within 14 days, but remove this benefit entirely from motorists who appeal to a tribunal.”
AA president Edmund King said: “The AA receives many complaints about parking enforcement and we believe that some of the measures in this report would help to ease the situation. In particular we welcome the five-minute grace period as many drivers are petrified that rushing into the corner shop for change for the pay & display will cost them dearly.”
“Offering a 25 per cent discount to those who lose appeals is a step in the right direction but we still feel that the full discount should be offered.”
Data obtained under a Freedom of Information request showed a 79% increase in compensation claims in the last financial year from people who have had their vehicles borked by potholes. Cyclists will be rolling their eyes at the news too, as Britain’s cycle lanes are like Screwball Scramble.
Britannia Rescue, which conducted the research, said potholes take up a total area of 295 square miles on these shores – that’s twice the size of the Isle of Wight.
With that, nearly 1 in 10 people have suffered car damage as a result of our dreadful roads in the past 12 months, and the company added other stats:
- Local authorities have paid out £2.5m in compensation to motorists in the past financial year.
- UK councils have received 32,600 compensation claims over the same period – a 79% increase over the previous year.
- The most common problems are tyre damage (43%), damaged suspension (34%) and damaged wheel rims (26%).
Britannia Rescue said: “Short-term fixes are often chosen over longer term solutions, with close to a quarter of councils admitting they usually temporarily fix potholes rather than resurface the area. The average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 50,000 potholes.”
The company’s managing director, Peter Horton, said: “Britain’s pothole epidemic has resulted from years of under-investment … we now have around 200,000 potholes on UK roads. Motorists should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.”
The watch is designed for drivers of the various Nissan Nismos… but what does it do?
Well, using a Bluetooth low-energy connection, the watch gathers data from the car, including speed, efficiency information, fuel consumption and all that. Nissan says the telemetry data will then show drivers their track performance.
It’ll also monitor driver health, such as heart rate and all that jive.
You’ll be able to charge it through a Micro-USB port and Nissan reckon the battery will last for a week. In the future, these Nissan watches may include technology about electrocardiograms, electroencephalograms and monitor your skin temperature.
Just what you need when you’re driving to work, farting along to your Michael McDonald CDs.
Cardiff topped the survey for driver behaviour and scored 97% for politeness with Birmingham and Sheffield in second and Coventry and Glasgow completing the top five.
Factors taken into account were a driver’s likeliness to thank other drivers, stop for pedestrians at crossings and giving way at junctions.
The worst drivers were found in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, with Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh also scoring low because they’re all filled with impotent rage and the men have small penises.
With that, the survey found that woman drivers were more polite than their male counterparts and, unsurprisingly, drivers of small and medium cars were much better behaved than van drivers.
Here’s the league table:
Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a foldable, compact electric car, which could answer a lot of pollution and parking problems.
In-Soo Suh, Associate Professor of the Graduate School for Green Transportation at KAIST and his research team introduced a prototype micro electric car called ‘Armadillo-T’.
The Armadillo-T, like its animal namesake, tucks itself away, shrinking its 2.8 metre size down to almost half, 1.65 meters. It’s a four-wheel drive, all-electric and, when folded up, takes up only one-third of a 5-meter parking space.
It has a smartphone-interfaced remote control, which means the vehicle can turn 360 degrees, which will help when parking into tiny spots.
Professor In-Soo Suh said: “I expect that people living in cities will eventually shift their preferences from bulky, petro-engine cars to smaller and lighter electric cars. Armadillo-T can be one of the alternatives city drivers can opt for. Particularly, this car is ideal for urban travels, including car-sharing and transit transfer, to offer major transportation links in a city. In addition to the urban application, local near-distance travels such as tourist zones or large buildings can be another example of application.”
Motorists hogging the middle lane or tailgating will get three points on their licence and a £100 on-the-spot fine, while driving without a seatbelt and using a mobile at the wheel will end up in a £100 fine, up from the old £60 penalty.
Anyone driving with no insurance will now face a £300 penalty. If you do all of the above at the same time, you’re buggered.
Police have also been given powers to issue on-the-spot fines to drivers found using the wrong lane on a roundabout or not giving way at a T-junction.
The Government are hoping these plans will stop careless or dangerous driving, provided of course, there’s enough police to call upon to patrol and enforce these new rules, which come in as of today.
Road safety minister Stephen Hammond said: “Careless drivers are a menace and their negligence puts innocent people’s lives at risk. That is why we are making it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice rather than needing to take every offender to court.”
“We are also increasing penalties for a range of driving offences to a level which reflects their seriousness and which will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences.”
Another day, another scam – except this one is particularly evil. Motorists are being warned about a new insurance scam nicknamed ‘Flash for Cash’, where gangs are flashing their lights to let people out of junctions and then crashing into them on purpose.
Criminals usually target expensive cars, but also – because they’re lovely that way – they’re ploughing into the back of vehicles driven by old people and women with children in the back. As Neil Thomas from the Asset Protection Unit explains, they like to pick on people who won’t fight back.
‘Perhaps single females in the car with children in the back, perhaps doing the school run. Where they know there’s going to be no resistance, no real argument at the scene. The children are going to be upset.’
There’s already an established scam, known as ‘crash for cash’ where the scumbags slam their brakes on (often with tail light bulbs removed), causing innocent motorists to crash into the back of them.
However ‘flash for cash’ is trickier and harder to prove, as it’s a case of the innocent motorist’s word against theirs. Gangs are making thousands per accident through false personal injury claims, loss of earnings and repair claims – and it’s costing insurance companies around £392 million a year.
So, forget goodwill, courtesy and all that crap. If some dodgy-looking geezer flashes their lights you to let you out, ignore them.
Thanks for making the world a better place, criminals.
Road safety charity Brake, along with DVLA and insurance company RSA, reckon that regular eye tests for drivers could cut the number of casualties on UK roads by around 3,000.
A survey of 1,000 drivers found 26% have not had an eye test in the last two years and that more than one million drivers have never had one, aside from a driving instructor asking them to read a licence plate when they were doing their lessons.
Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: “Being able to see properly is fundamental to being a good driver. Your eyesight can deteriorate rapidly without you noticing, and at the wheel that can be lethal.”
This campaign comes on the back of the death of Cassie McCord who was killed in Colchester when an elderly driver mounted a pavement and hit her in February 2011. The driver had failed a police eye test, but officers were unable to persuade him to hand over his licence.
Cassie’s mother Jackie told Sky News: “They spent two hours coercing him, trying to get him to surrender his licence voluntarily, but he refused. He got in the car three days later and killed Cassie.”
The subsequent campaign resulted in “Cassie’s Law” which now enables the police to remove someone’s licence from someone within minutes, rather than the old process that took days. The upshot of this could now result in drivers needing to take some personal responsibility and get regular tests.
What do you think?