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A record 94% of car shoppers now start their buying journey online.
That’s according to a new industry report by the Capgemini consultancy. While vehicle manufacturers’ websites, dealer websites and search engines are the top sources of information, social media has gained more influence over purchase decisions this year, while family and friends has lost some.
The study surveyed more than 8,000 consumers in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Russia, the UK and US. Other key findings include:
• Loyalty to brands and dealers is on the rise. Over the past few years, manufacturers and dealers have worked hard to improve the customer experience, and it seems their efforts are paying off.
• Despite the digital transformation that is occurring in the car and other industries, the dealer remains an integral part of car buying. More than ever, shoppers count on them to make sense of everything they’ve read and heard about during their pre-buying research process. Dealers were considered the number one source of information by 56% of customers, an all-time high.
• Shoppers increasingly expect the showroom to be informative, interactive and entertaining.
• ‘Connect me’ technology enhances the ownership experience. Just over half of consumers expect their next car to be internet-connected. They expect their new cars to have all the technology they’re used to everywhere else in their lives – applications for work and recreation delivered via their various devices.
“Consumers expect an exciting and unique experience with seamless integration between the digital and the physical world. They act as a driving force for innovation in this industry,” Markus Winkler, head of automotive, at Capgemini Consulting said.
Over one in four parents of toddlers wrongly believe they should choose a safety seat based on the age of the child, when in fact they should go by height and weight instead, a survey by Which?, the consumer magazine, has found.
For instance, 50% of parents wrongly believe their children are safe to go in a forward-facing seat when they reach the age of nine months old, when in fact the decision depends on the weight of the child.
The survey also found that 50% of parents didn’t know what the right model of safety seat would be right for their car, and more than 50% of seats had been incorrectly fitted.
Which? also warned parents against buying a seat online, from websites that provided little or no advice or offered a fitting service.
A recent survey has revealed that women feel they get a better deal than men when buying a used car.
The study, by HPI, the vehicle history checking firm, found that 43% of men were not completely satisfied with their last used car deal as opposed to only 35% of women, which suggests that female motorists might be making better buying decisions.
It also found that 51% of women consult a family member or friend who has some knowledge of cars before they enter the showroom, whereas men are reluctant to ask for advice, with only 27% taking along a knowledgeable friend.
“The survey suggests that men are more difficult to please, when it comes to used car buying and that they won’t take advice,” HPI’s Nicola Johnson said. “In contrast, women are eager to take advice and prepare before checking out their options. This helps them make measured decisions and as a result, they are happy with their purchase.”
Despite some supermarkets dropping fuel prices at the pumps, new research from British Car Auctions indicates that fuel costs remain a major concern for motorists.
In a BCA poll of used car buyers, three quarters of those who took part said the price of fuel was their biggest worry when it comes to motoring costs. Their top five concerns were:
1. The price of fuel
2. Cost of road tax
3. Insurance costs
4. Vehicle maintenance and servicing
Many are concerned about the rising costs of motoring because they rely on their car for their work. Over a quarter of survey participants said they now buy only the amount of fuel they need, rather than filling up the tank every time. One in four now also search online for the cheapest petrol station before heading out to fill up.
Changing to a more fuel-efficient model appears to be a growing trend too, with 15% saying they have already taken this step. Nearly one in five has changed from a petrol car to diesel, to cut motoring costs.
“It’s clear from our survey that motorists are continuing to feel the financial pinch,” Tim Naylor of BCA said. “While the price of fuel still tops the list of concerns regarding motoring costs, 31% said that maintenance and servicing costs were a key issue. A quarter have delayed repairs to their car to save money, and 23% have avoided recommended service intervals.”
That could prove short-sighted, Tim Naylor said. “Motorists should remember, when they decide to sell their car, that buyers place a significant value on service history.” BCA estimates that a full service history is worth up to £500 for the typical five-year/60,000-mile car valued around £7,000. “Saving now may cost you more in the future,” Tim said.
Motorists in rural Scotland are less likely than those in any other part of Britain to fail their MOT as a result of simple, easy-to-fix, issues such as blown bulbs, worn tyres and cracked windscreens.
The research, conducted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, indicates that around 1.5 million MOT failures each year could be avoided if motorists carried out simple visual checks of their vehicles and forewarned their dealer of any issues, before the annual test of roadworthiness.
The Orkney Islands had the lowest number of avoidable fails, with only 13% of issues being of the type that an owner could have identified in advance of the MOT. In joint second place were the Hebrides and Shetland, with a 13.6% ‘fixable’ failure rate.
At the other end of the spectrum was Central London with a figure of 46%. The national average was 22%.
Most avoidable MOT failures
1 Central London 46.4%
2 South West London 35.4%
3 Bromley 34.3%
4 Ilford 33.9%
5 North West London 33.3%
6 Kingston 32.7%
7 Sutton 32.3%
8 Harrow 31.0%
9 East London 30.8%
10 Croydon 30.6%
Fewest avoidable MOT failures
1 Orkney 13.0%
2= Hebrides 13.6%
2= Shetland 13.6%
4 Berwick-on-Tweed 14.0%
5 Kirkcaldy 15.1%
6 Bradford 15.3%
7 Sunderland 15.4%
8 Inverness 15.5%
9 Aberdeen 15.8%
10= Hull 15.9%
10= Stoke-on-Trent 15.9%
% of all MOT fails considered 'avoidable'
The findings were highlighted as part of the motor industry's ‘Minute Or Two’ campaign, which encourages motorists to carry out ten visual checks of their vehicle prior to the MOT test.
“The aim of the ‘Minute Or Two’ campaign is to give motorists the knowledge and confidence to check their own vehicles and eliminate the possibility of simple problems, such as lights and fluid levels, causing a fail at the vehicle’s next MOT test,” Mike Baunton of the SMMT said.
The full ‘Minute Or Two’ checklist, which can be viewed at www.passmymot.co.uk, includes checks of headlights, tyres, windscreen wipers and fluid levels. The website also features a video guide to the checks.
The campaign is also backed by every major car maker, and technicians at 5,545 manufacturer main dealerships across the UK are ready and able to assist customers who might be unsure about doing the checks themselves.
New figures from the Finance & Leasing Association show that the value of consumer new car finance provided through dealerships increased by 36% in in 2012, to £9.4 billion. The average balance financed was over £15,000. More than seven out of ten new cars bought by consumers last year were financed by a dealership at the point of sale, a total of 662,052 (up 27% on the previous year). In 2011, it was 63%. “These figures show that customers want good value deals and are finding them,” Paul Harrison, the FLA’s Head of Motor Finance, said. “The number of cars financed is at its highest level since before the recent financial crisis.” He added that the factors underpinning consumer confidence in motor finance looked likely to continue. Personal contract purchase remains the most popular way of financing a new car, with a 64% share of the market, compared to Hire Purchase with 27%. Hire Purchase remains the most popular way of financing a used vehicle however, also with a 64% market share. But PCP products continue to advance and now account for 22% of dealership used car finance. The used car finance market had a good year overall. At a time when finance can be hard to come back, dealerships increased the number of used cars that they financed by almost 10%, to 787,821 in 2012.
From as early as 2014, motorists will be able to connect to the internet using voice commands while driving. That is the prediction of information company IHS, whose senior analyst Jack Bergquist said: “By the end of 2014, for some of the bigger brands, every vehicle they sell will offer some sort of connectivity.” Using technology based on smartphones and tablet computers, IHS believes that in the very near future drivers will be able to update social networking sites, search for local restaurants and petrol stations, and book a hotel or a parking space on the road. Car makers are investing heavily in creating the ‘connected car’, which could see internet screens installed on dashboards some time next year, to be followed inevitably by a range of brand new apps designed specifically for motorists. “If you look at a cost to design a completely new car model, some companies are spending around a third of the budget just on the in-vehicle infotainment and the in-car technology around the system,” Jack Bergquist said. “Ford has categorically stated that this is selling more cars for them. Over 50% of consumers would be swayed by the presence of an internet-capable device.”
Safety groups argue that the distraction this potentially causes for drivers is an additional safety risk (indeed, in the USA it is estimated that some 25% of road traffic accidents are caused by mobile phones). “You could get caught up your experience and forget that you're driving,” John Ellis, a global technologist at Ford, said. But Bergquist countered that voice-activated internet technology could actually help to improve car safety, not least because so many drivers ignore the ban on hand-held mobile phones anyway. “You can't stop people from doing this,” he said, “but car manufacturers are able to create a system that is a million times safer than people updating Facebook on a phone in their laps.”
Short-sighted motorists involved in an accident or caught driving dangerously will now have their licences revoked within hours rather than days, to prevent them posing a risk to other road users.
The move follows a campaign led by Jackie McCord, whose daughter Cassie was killed in 2011 by an 87 year-old driver who had failed a police eye test three days before, and who collected 45,000 signatures petitioning for a change to how licences are removed.
The DVLA and the police have worked closely to greatly streamline the process for revoking a licence when the police identify that a driver’s eyesight is inadequate,” road safety minister Stephen Hammond said. “The decision whether to revoke a driving licence on medical grounds remains with the DVLA, but the process for informing drivers that their licence has been revoked has now been accelerated.”
Under the old scheme, police had to send a letter or fax to have a licence revoked, which could take several days. Under the new ruling, known as ‘Cassie’s Law,’ they can make a phone call or send an email requesting a licence be removed (from the roadside using a smartphone, for example).
The DVLA would then email back a revocation notice to the police station, which could be printed out and delivered to the offending driver the same day. Drivers who continue to drive after being told their license has been withdrawn face a fine of up to £5,000 or possibly six months in prison.
Driving after the sun goes down is a rather different experience to driving in daylight. Speed is harder to judge, distances can be hard to calculate, and facing a wall of headlights can cause distraction and impaired vision. Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, offers some tips on driving in the dark on the motorway, to make your journey as safe and enjoyable as possible:
Government proposals for a new 80mph motorway speed limit are likely to be cancelled, due to the level of concern that it might increase the number of fatal car accidents.
According to the Financial Times, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin is resolved to cancel the plan, although an official announcement may not be made until later in the year.
However, the Department for Transport has said it will be going ahead with trials. A press officer for the DfT said: “Work is continuing to assess the potential economic, safety and environmental impacts of trialling 80mph speed limits across a number of sites on the motorway network.”
Brake, the road safety charity, strongly welcomed news, and urged the government to invest in more variable speed limits on motorways, with a top speed of 70mph, which it says is a proven way to reduce crashes while improving traffic flow.
The Association of Chief Police Officers says it wants to see pilots lasting two years before supporting the policy.
A third of drivers around the UK have damaged their vehicle by hitting a pothole in the last two years, a new AA survey of motorists has found.Damaged road surfaces took the greatest toll on drivers in Scotland, by some margin:
Damage in last two years Scotland 44% North West 35% North East 34% South East 34% Yorks & Humberside 34% South West 33% Wales 31% West Midlands 31% East Midlands 30% London 30% Eastern 29% Northern Ireland 29% UK average 33% < The results show that tyres and wheels bear the brunt of the impact, with 13% of respondents reporting a damaged tyre and 6% sustaining damage to both tyre and wheel. An unlucky one in ten has had their steering knocked out of alignment as well as damage to the wheel. In the worst case, a handful of people said the incident resulted in them losing control and crashing into anther vehicle or object. Andy Smith, the AA’s patrol of the year award winner, commented: “It’s no surprise that drivers in the north have taken the biggest pothole hit, but AA patrols report that as soon as you get off the main road in many rural areas it’s like being on an Alpine mountain pass – you’re often in first gear traversing huge craters. “If you see one up ahead, slow down and try to avoid swerving round it as you risk having a more serious accident. Regularly check your tyre pressures and look for any bulges, nicks or unusual tyre wear, which could spell pothole trouble. If in any doubt, get them checked at a garage.” The AA is encouraging road users to report potholes to local authorities to allow them to repair them. Usually the repair cost won’t justify an insurance claim. However, you might be able to claim for the cost of any repairs from the highway authority if they were aware of the defect.
Rises in pump prices for petrol and diesel over the last ten years were mainly the result of higher crude oil prices and increases in tax and duty, not a lack of competition, an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading has found.
Its report concludes that, at national level, competition is working well in the UK road fuel sector, although the absence of pricing information on motorways is a concern and it does not rule out taking action in some local markets if there is evidence of anti-competitive behaviour.
On the widely-held perception that pump prices rise quickly when the wholesale price goes up but fall more slowly when it drops, the OFT said it found “very limited” evidence to support such claims.
“There has been widespread mistrust in how this market is operating,” the OFT’s Chief Executive Clive Maxwell said, “however our analysis suggests that competition is working well, and rises in pump prices over the past decade or so have largely been down to increases in tax and the cost of crude oil.
“Our call for information has not identified any evidence of anti-competitive behaviour at a national level, where competition appears to be strong. There may be some issues at a local level. Where we receive evidence of potential anti-competitive behaviour we will consider taking action. For example, we have recently opened an investigation into the supply of road fuel in the Western Isles of Scotland.”
Motoring organisation and consumer groups expressed their shock at the findings. Quentin Wilson, as a spokesman for FairFuel UK, said: “UK consumers will be bitterly disappointed. The nation will feel let down. The Americans and the Germans are holding inquiries – why aren't we?"
AA president Edmund King added: “The OFT are not ruling out action at local level and its call for motorway fuel price signs could bring more competition. But drivers deserve a better explanation of why prices fluctuate wildly and who is driving this – from the pump back to the well.”
And David Bizley, the RAC’s Technical Director, said: “It is a great shame the OFT has not taken this opportunity to instigate a full investigation into this issue which many motorists view as daylight robbery.
“RAC research has demonstrated that the car is an essential part of day-to-day life of a vast number of families. As many as 53% of people said they could only transport their children to school by car, while 57% could not do a weekly food shop and other essential activities without their vehicle.”
Research conducted by BCA, the car auction group, indicates that many motorists are changing the way they drive to maximise their fuel efficiency. “70% of owners have already taken steps to cut their motoring costs, trying different ways to combat the financial pressures,” BCA’s Tim Naylor said. “These include altering the way they drive (17% drive more slowly to conserve fuel), avoiding heavy breaking (16%) and opting for more fuel-efficient models.”
70% of British motorists are not aware of the new EU tyre labelling regulations new research from Continental Tyres has found.
The new regulations, which came into force last November, remain a mystery to most, with one in five mistakenly thinking that one of the categories would indicate how many miles a tyre should last.
In fact, the label shows ratings for wet braking, rolling resistance and external noise only, and must be shown to the consumer upon the purchase of a tyre.
"It's the biggest thing to happen to the industry for some time, and yet it seems to be passing a few people by," Peter Robb of Continental said.
Of the 2,000 motorists who took part in the survey, 20% said the labels were confusing. However, nearly half (49%) said they thought it would change how they decide which tyres to buy.
"We hope tyre labelling will help motorists understand that their tyre choice can affect the safety and performance of their car," Continental’s Laura Hardy said. "They are not something people enjoy buying, but a tyre is a safety product and its importance should not be under-estimated - which is why there needs to be a greater level of awareness about the different options."
Prior to any journey in winter, particularly long distance trips, motorists should take the time to check not only their tyre pressure, lights, petrol and oil levels, but also the car’s windscreen for scratches or cracks.
"Checking your windscreen should be an essential part of every motorist’s safety routine, especially in winter," Matthew Mycock, the Managing Director of Autoglass, said. "People don’t realise, but it provides up to 30% of a vehicle’s structural strength and is critical in supporting airbag deployment. Poor weather conditions mean there is a greater danger of windscreen damage."
During the last cold snap Autoglass saw a 29% rise in motorists suffering cracked windscreens, with branches in Aberdeen seeing up to a 350% rise in calls to fix windscreens affected by the cold. For that reason, drivers are also advised not to use boiling water to defrost a frozen windscreen, especially if it already has chip damage.
Top five tips for safe driving this winter:
Inefficient driving techniques are costing Scots motorists more than £570 million a year in wasted fuel, new research has found.
Experts at the Energy Saving Trust, which offers free advice to motorists on how to cut their fuel bills, calculate that an average driver in an average car in Scotland drives 9,090 miles a year.
By taking their advice, it says, the typical motorist could save £250 a year (equivalent to 21p off every litre spent on petrol and diesel) by following a range of simple fuel-efficient driving tips. The fuel saved would be enough to fill Hampden Park 416 times over.
To help more motorists save money, the Trust has just launched a new free smartphone app called FuelGood. When activated it constantly monitors the movement of a vehicle, and provides feedback on how well you are driving by showing green for efficient driving and red if it detects inefficient practices like excessive idling or increased speed.
Speaking at the launch of the app, Minister for Transport Keith Brown said: "We are all looking at ways to cut fuel consumption, and this is a great tool to track everyday journeys and to see the difference that driving efficiently can make."
Ian Murdoch, manager for Scottish transport at the Energy Saving Trust, said that fuel-efficient driving was about adapting your driving style: "Simple things like anticipating road conditions and driving smoothly, shifting to a higher gear as soon as possible and switching off the air-conditioning when it isn’t needed all have their part to play - and they don’t necessarily slow you down," he said.
RAC technical director David Bizley added: "Driving smoothly without accelerating harshly and braking rapidly can without doubt make a noticeable difference to fuel economy and drivers' pockets."
Last year's position 1/35
Cars needing repair work 10%
Average repair cost £361
Best model HR-V ('98-'06)
Worst model Accord ('02-08)
For the seventh consecutive year, Honda tops the reliability charts. All its models score under 48 on the RI. The number of Hondas needing work has risen 1% since 2011, but the manufacturer is still 7% clear of second-placed Toyota.
Average costs are higher than some, but you'll find fail rates of no more than 14% across all its models, making Honda the most dependable manufacturer in the 2012 Warranty Direct Reliability Survey.
Last year's position 2/35
Cars needing repair work 17%
Average repair cost £385
Best model Aygo ('05-)
Worst model Previa ('00-06)
Nine top-10 finishes, an average repair cost of £385 and just 17% of cars needing work mean Toyota takes a well deserved second place.
The Corolla ('01-'07), Auris ('07-) and Prius ('03-'09) all feature in the small family category top 10. The Aygo is Toyota's most reliable model, going wrong just 9% of the time. Ten models received an RI score of less than 100 this year.
Last year's position 3/35
Cars needing repair work 18%
Average repair cost £433
Best model IS ('05-)
Worst model GS ('97-'05)
As a manufacturer of more expensive luxury cars, Lexus's average high repair cost of £433 isn't really a surprise.
You won't have to fork out often, though, because its cars fail just 18% of the time. The best model, the IS ('05-), beats that, failing just 11% of the time and putting it second in the executive category top 10.
Last year's position 3/35
Cars needing repair work 19%
Average repair cost £265
Best model Alto ('97-'06)
Worst model SX4 ('09-)
Suzuki loses the joint third place it shared with Lexus last year, but still records a very strong fourth.
Its Alto ('97-'06) has an excellent RI score of 8, and the little city car fails only 10% of the time. No Suzuki exceeds a 31% fail rate, and the marque has the fewest cooling and heating problems in the survey.
Last year's position 7/35
Cars needing repair work 20%
Average repair cost £337
Best model Legacy ('03-)
Worst model Forester ('02-'08)
Moving up two places, Subaru has two of its models in the category top 10s, with the Legacy ('03-) taking first place in the family car sector. It fails just 15% of the time and has a fine RI score of 40.
Subarus suffer more axle and suspension problems than any other manufacturer.
Last year's position 6/35
Cars needing repair work 21%
Average repair cost £435
Best model MX-5 ('05-)
Worst model RX-8 ('03-)
Two generations of MX-5 ('05-) and ('98-'05) lock out the open-top sector.
The '05- MX-5 in particular has excellent figures, including an RI score of 8 and a failure rate of just 4%. Mazda's rotary-engined RX-8 is different; average repairs can reach £557, with a 36% fail rate.
Lexus will not offer the new IS with a diesel engine, replacing it with a petrol-electric hybrid that the firm claims will emit less than 100g/km of CO2. The new car, which has been unveiled at the Detroit motor show, goes on sale in the UK this summer. The IS will be powered by either a 2.5-litre petrol V6 in the IS 250 or a combination of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder and electric motor in the IS 300h. The hybrid system is used in the Japanese market Toyota Crown – in that car the engine produces 163lb ft and 175bhp, and the motor makes 141bhp and 221lb ft. Combined, the system produces 217bhp and Lexus is aiming for fuel consumption of over 65mpg. Both the IS 250 and 300h are rear-wheel drive, with the 250 driving the wheels though a six-speed auto, while the hybrid uses a CVT. The front double wishbone suspension is a revised version of the last IS’s, while the rear is a multi-link system borrowed from the Lexus GS. The IS also uses the GS’s Drive Mode Select software. F Sport models now get different styling to distinguish them from the standard IS, with a different grille and bumper. Suspension and steering are retuned, and F Sports can be had with optional Adaptive Variable Suspension. Its Drive Mode system gains a fourth setting, too. The car is slightly wider, longer and taller than the outgoing model, with a 70mm longer wheelbase. Lexus claims this give the IS more room for rear passengers and class-leading rear knee room, while boot size has increased to 480 litres. The hybrid loses 30 litres of boot space. The cabin design is closely related to the LF CC concept car's, with its high centre console, analogue clock, wide air vents and touch sensitive controls.
Eastern Western Motor Group have teamed up with Norton House Hotel & Spa to offer their Luxury Car Village customers an exclusive new year rate for their Health Club Memberships.
This is an amazing joining package for all Eastern BMW, Eastern MINI, Lexus Edinburgh, Western Toyota and Mercedes-Benz of Edinburgh customers. When you sign up for a New Year Health Club Membership you will receive the joining package for only £30 as an individual joiner or £50 as a couple (instead of £50 ind and £70 couple)
This then gives you £400 worth of Norton House benefits including: An overnight stay on a bed and breakfast basis in the hotel (1 per couple)
1 annual guest pass per new member
1 personal training session per new members to get you on the right track
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For more information or to get booked in please call Norton House Hotel & Spa on 0131 333 6444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terms and conditions apply.
Fog is one of the most difficult conditions to drive in.
Ensure you are prepared so that you can carry out your journey safely, and allow lots of extra time for the trip. According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists, you should: 1. Clean your windows and windscreen and ensure all lights are working before you set off.
2. When you’re ready to leave, switch on the dipped headlights.
3. Use your windscreen wipers on an intermittent setting to clear moisture.
4. Switch the heater or air-conditioning on and leave it running to keep the inside of the glass clear.
5. Keep enough distance between yourself and the vehicle in front - make sure you can stop safely within the distance you can see clearly.
6. Fog is not the same density all the time, it may get thicker – slow down if it does.
7. Brake gently but earlier than usual so your brake lights warn drivers behind.
8. Be aware that other vehicles may be travelling without their lights on, so extra care and attention is needed. At junctions, wind the window down and listen for traffic.
9. Straining to see through thick fog will quickly make you tired so take regular breaks.
10. Take high-viz clothing in case you have to leave the car.
“Don’t underestimate the effect fog has on your visibility,” Simon Elstow of the IAM said. “Adjusting your driving to the weather conditions will help you to become a safer and more confident driver.” The Highway Code states that motorists may use front and rear fog lights when visibility is reduced to 100 metres, but they must be switched off when conditions improve to avoid dazzling the traffic and obscuring your brake lights.
Nearly a quarter of motorists waste fuel by driving around with a boot full of clutter – because the extra weight impedes fuel efficiency.
In a survey conducted by Shell, 22% of drivers said they used their car’s boot as a permanent storage space. Surprisingly, 10% have never cleared it out since buying the car, and 32% of motorists said they commonly kept more than five things in their car boot. The most commonly stored items were: 1. Tools (43% admitted to carrying them around in the car)
2. Wellington boots/outdoor clothing (27%)
3. Gym bag/sports equipment and golf clubs (11%)
4. Pushchair/baby equipment (9%)
5. Shoes (9%) Quentin Wilson, Shell’s FuelSave ambassador, said: “It’s amazing that so many of us are carrying around unnecessary items, meaning we’re wasting fuel and money every time we drive.” To tie in with the findings, Shell has launched a new campaign called Target One Million that aims to help a million drivers globally learn how to reduce their fuel consumption. It is launching a series of online, interactive mini-games to help equip drivers with the skills they need to become more fuel-efficient.
The traditional paper car tax disc that motorists display on their windscreens could be scrapped and replaced by an online version.
It is one of a number of reforms being considered by the transport minister, Stephen Hammond, who has published a consultation document on removing “the need for unnecessary paper including abolishing the driving licence paper counterpart and considering the continuing need for the tax disc”.
Ministers believe the move would save money and streamline services to motorists. Furthermore, the police can now check to see if a car has been taxed by accessing the DVLA database and don’t need to see the paper disc.
“If you drive, run a business or pay taxes you will be a customer of ours and I hope you will have your say about how we can improve the services we offer you,” he said. “Much progress has already been achieved and it is now much easier to use digital services to get driving licences and sort out vehicle tax. But there is more that can be done and this consultation is about the Government listening to its customers before agreeing the way forward.”
Glasgow is set to offer free electricity for motorists driving electric or plug-in hybrid cars.
Twenty new charging posts have been installed in the city and they can each charge two cars simultaneously, giving electric and hybrid vehicle owners a 30-mile boost in just an hour’s charging.
“We have been introducing electric vehicles into our own fleet for some time now and I want to see them become a regular sight on Glasgow’s streets,” Jim Coleman of Glasgow City Council said. “By providing more charging points, we can start to make an electric vehicle not only a clean and economic choice, but a practical option for many more motorists.”
Erik Fairbairn, the CEO of POD Point which supplied the charging posts, commented: “Scotland’s renewable energy policies will make electric cars a more attractive proposition to individuals and businesses who want to use the surplus energy they generate to charge electric cars.
“Electric motoring is suitable for companies or individuals who do planned, local journeys where vehicles return to base every day. We are expecting to see a surge of interest in Scotland, where the government-backed grant schemes for fitting electric vehicle charge points are extremely generous.”
What Car? has launched an Approved Used car brand, offering used vehicle stock for sale from the Trusted Dealers website.
TrustedDealers.co.uk is owned and operated by a UK-wide group of franchised dealers. To become a Trusted Dealer, the retailer must sign up to the ‘10 Points of Difference’ charter for every car they sell, undertaking to:
1. Conduct a full pre-delivery mechanical inspection.
2. Carry out theft and write-off checks.
3. Check that there is no outstanding finance.
4. Check the mileage is accurate.
5. Offer a test drive.
6. Take a buyer’s existing car in part-exchange.
7. Offer finance and service plans.
8. Provide a minimum of three months’ MoT.
9. Carry out a full professional valet.
10. Supply a warranty.
Cars offered for sale through TrustedDealers.co.uk will be listed on whatcar.com, and Trusted Dealers will be given exclusive use of What Car? Approved Used branding in their dealership.
“We have thought long and hard about how we can add value and reassurance to the used car market,” What Car? publishing director Andrew Golby said. “We’ve chosen to work with some of the UK’s best dealers, whose focus upon quality and customer service hits the benchmark that all vehicle retailers should aspire to. We feel that What Car? joining forces with Trusted Dealers will offer more confidence to used car buyers making a purchase through the scheme.”
The cost of car insurance for women looks set to soar, following a Europe-wide ruling that insurers must stop taking gender into account when quoting for car insurance.
Gender has traditionally been one of many factors used to assess risk in insurance. Women for example have typically benefitted from cheaper car insurance because of their lower accident rates.
But a new ruling from the European Court of Justice means that, as of 21 December 2012, all insurance pricing must be ‘gender-neutral’ – and that means women are going to see their premiums increase, typically by as much as 10-15% and by more for younger female motorists, according to press reports.
A spokesperson for the European Commission said: “The new rules are about fairer pricing. Male drivers will no longer pay more just because they are men. Instead, all safe drivers will pay less than drivers who are less safe. Innovative and competitive insurance companies have every incentive to apply fairer pricing cost-effectively. Some are already doing so.”
The Association of British Insurers has published consumer guidance to the changes, and says that to manage the cost of motor insurance premiums motorists should consider:
1. Shopping around. It is often worthwhile getting quotes from different insurers, using an insurance broker or a comparison website. Make sure you don’t just buy on price but on the policy that meets your needs, and if buying online check the details of the cover.
2. Taking steps to make sure your vehicle is secure, such as having an approved alarm or immobiliser fitted, which can sometimes help reduce premiums. Having your car garaged overnight may reduce the cost as well.
3. Limiting the vehicle’s use. Using your car in connection with a business pushes up the cost so, if you can, limit usage to social, domestic and pleasure.
4. Taking out a telematics policy which some insurers offer. A ‘black box’ type of device is installed in the vehicle to track driver behaviour and reward good driving habits, often through lower premiums.
5. If you are a young driver, taking the Pass Plus course. Some insurers offer lower premiums if you complete it.
6. Accepting a higher voluntary excess, but ensure you can afford this.
7. Paying the premium in a single lump sum, rather than in instalments, which can sometimes be cheaper.
8. Choosing a lower powered car. If you are changing your vehicle, remember that insurers take engine size into account, so a smaller engine will mean a lower premium.
Commenting on the changes, an ABI spokesperson said that although “insurers can no longer take gender into account when calculating premiums, they will continue to look at other relevant risk factors to ensure consumers benefit from the most competitively priced insurance. The insurance market will remain competitive and customers should continue to shop around to get the right policy at the best price.”
As the temperatures start to drop, with colder, icier conditions on the way, Europcar has compiled a handy checklist of tips to help keep motorists safe on the roads.
1. Allow plenty of time for journeys in case you have to take a longer route.
2. Slow down in icy conditions to compensate for diminished control and increased braking distances. Speed limits are set for optimum conditions; in difficult conditions, they can often be too fast.
3. Control skids by releasing the accelerator and not touching the brakes. Instead, turn into the skid and don’t accelerate until you feel some control return.
4. Beware shady roads. They may be hiding icy conditions, as can bridges and overpasses.
5. Leave a bigger gap between yourself and the vehicle in front. In some icy conditions you may need up to ten times the normal braking distance.
6.Remember your sunglasses to avoid the glare from low winter sun.
7.Ensure your vehicle is well-ventilated as a car heater turned to full can make the driver drowsy.
8.Watch out for fog and use fog lights when needed, but also ensure these are switched off when no longer required.
9.Be extra vigilant when looking for pedestrians and cyclists as they may be less visible.
10.When it is snowing, use dipped headlights as visibility can be reduced.
"Driving conditions are more challenging in the winter, with less daylight as well as the risk of snow, fog and ice", explained Ken McCall, the Europcar UK managing director. "This autumn has already been colder than it was this time last year, which doesn’t bode well for the winter ahead", added Ken McCall. "So, although we haven’t experienced severe conditions yet, it pays to be prepared."
Now is the time to start thinking about how to adapt your driving, so that when conditions become dangerously slippery you are ready to react safely.
Simon Elstow of driver training specialist IAM Drive & Survive offers six tips for confident driving in icy conditions:
1. Ensure you have de-icer and a scraper. Before setting off, clean any ice or condensation from all windows and mirrors to optimise visibility.
2. Set off in second gear, releasing the clutch and accelerating gently, avoiding high revs. This will prevent wheel spin.
3. As you drive, stay in higher gears and don’t go too fast to avoid losing control.
If your car loses grip, take your foot off the accelerator and point the front wheels where you want to go.
4. Keep to the main roads as they’re more likely to be gritted. Where you park can help reduce your risk of being involved in someone else’s accident. Look for off road parking where possible or gritted roads if not.
"When the roads are icy, the best advice is to drive as if you’re walking on eggshells," Simon Elstow said. "Be prepared for the worst – icy conditions can affect accelerating, steering and braking. Being mentally prepared as well as having the right equipment is vital, so think about any problems you encountered last winter, and what you need to do to overcome them if they recur this year."
A new survey has revealed that women drivers are better than men, as they tend to have fewer accidents and carry fewer penalty points on their driving licence.
The study, by carrentals.co.uk, asked over 700 adults to identify common road signs and answer questions about their driving experience and ability. The results showed that men typically have more points on their license, have been caught speeding more often and have been involved in more accidents.
57% of male drivers questioned had had one or more accidents compared to 44% of female drivers. Furthermore, nearly double the number of men had both points on their licence and had been caught speeding compared to the number of women.
While women came out on top in terms of number of points and speeding, both men and women performed poorly when identifying a number of common road signs. The ‘No Stopping’ sign was the most incorrectly identified sign, with nearly one in three people answering incorrectly.
"While men would like to believe they are better than women behind the wheel, it is clear to see that they performed worse in terms of speeding fines and penalty points," Gareth Robinson, the MD of Carrentals.co.uk, said. But despite this, he added, men consistently rated their driving skills higher than women when asked. It seems that, while men performed poorly on the questionnaire and typically had a worse track record on the roads, they believed they were good drivers."
A package of measures to crack down on drink drivers has been unveiled by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond.
Included in the proposals are plans to remove the statutory right to a replacement blood or urine test where a breath test reading is only just above the legal limit, closing a loophole which allows those testing positive to sober up while waiting for a blood or urine sample to be taken.
Currently, drivers who record less than 50 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath have the right to demand a blood or urine test – despite being over the legal limit of 35mg per 100ml. This is known as the statutory option. It dates back to the original introduction of breathalyser technology when there were concerns over reliability.
The consultation, which runs to 2 January 2013, also seeks views on removing the requirement for a preliminary breath test where roadside evidential breath testing is used. At the moment, when a suspected drink driver is pulled over by police, they do a preliminary test and are then taken to a police station for a further test.
It is the result from the test at the station that is used as evidence. Under the new plans, following the introduction of mobile evidential testing devices, the police could do the evidential test at the roadside so the preliminary test would not be required.
Newly qualified drivers in Scotland should have restrictions placed on their licences while they build up their skills and experience, an MSP has said. He is calling for the Scottish Parliament to be given the power to introduce a system of graduated driving licences.
"Graduated licences would allow newly qualified drivers to build up their skills and experience in low-risk situations, reducing their chances of being in an accident," said North-East MSP Mark McDonald. "If putting restrictions on the conditions in which new drivers can drive for a fixed period can save lives, then it is wrong to dismiss it out of hand as the Westminster Government has done.
He advocated implementing the proposals of road safety charity Brake, including a minimum one-year learning period and a two-year 'novice' licence when the practical test has been passed. Brake believes that novices should be prohibited from driving on motorways, between 11pm and 6am, or if unsupervised by someone aged over 25.
A proposal to reduce Scotland’s drink-driving limit has been backed by the Scottish Parliament.
The current limit is 80 milligrams per 100mll of blood, but the plan is to cut it to 50mg – equivalent to one small glass of wine or pint of lager. The current limit is roughly equivalent to one and a half pints of beer.
"The question has to be asked whether the current limit is providing a sufficiently clear message that drinking and driving is unacceptable,” Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said. “The time is right for a change that will bring Scotland in line with the vast majority of Europe.”
He said that only the UK and Malta have a legal blood alcohol concentration limit of 80mg, and that lowering it to 50mg would save up to 17 lives a year. Around one in 30 drivers involved in accidents last year registered positive for alcohol or refused to be breathalysed.
The consultation period runs to the end of November, and a change to the law is likely to be made next year.
Inefficient driving is costing motorists almost £7 billion a year in wasted fuel, according to the Energy Saving Trust. It says drivers could save an average of £270 each, or 20p for every litre of petrol and diesel, by following a number of smarter driving tips. Simple things like avoiding heavy acceleration and braking, slowing down and keeping tyres correctly inflated can contribute to the potential savings. Other ways to save money include changing up to a higher gear earlier, switching the air-conditioning off, turning the engine off if stuck for long in traffic, and removing unnecessary roof racks. "Smarter driving techniques are easy to adopt but can make a huge difference at the pumps, which is more important than ever in these tough economic times," Tim Anderson of the Energy Saving Trust said. "If every driver in England adopted the trust’s tactics, they could save around £6.6 billion a year." It is estimated that motorists, on average, drive 8,347 miles annually. They could save 74p a day by following the smart-driving advice.
When the clocks go back, it can take a while for motorist to adapt. The Institute of Advanced Motorist's chief examiner Peter Rodger has put together some tips for driving in the dark. • To improve your view as far as possible, keep your lights and windscreen clean. • Use main beam, but when other drivers are approaching make sure you dip your lights to avoid dazzling the oncoming traffic. • Make sure you can stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear. • If you're feeling tired, caffeine alone is not a fix. Take a break and have a 20-minute nap. • If an approaching car forgets to dip its lights, look beyond the lights, but to their left to avoid being dazzled as much. • Look at how the traffic ahead behaves for clues to possible problems you can't see yet. • If it's gloomy in the morning, don't forget to put your lights on. "The risk of fatal accidents increases in the dark as visibility is reduced," Peter Rodger said. "Have regular eye examinations to ensure you are wearing glasses or contact lenses if you need to." To help drivers stay safe this winter, the IAM has launched a winter driving campaign with a dedicated website, drivingadvice.org.uk, for traffic updates, weather forecasts and tips on safe driving in winter
Radical measures, such as a minimum one-year learning period, restrictions on night time driving and lowering the alcohol limit, are needed to reduce the high crash risk young drivers face and to lower their insurance costs, according to a report from the Association of British Insurers.
The report, Improving the Safety of Young Drivers, looks at how other countries tackle the issue, including the use of graduated licensing in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Northern Ireland is planning to introduce a similar system.
The ABI is calling for the following measures to improve the safety of young drivers:
• A minimum 12-month learning period before taking the driving test to allow young learners to gain more supervised practice. • A ban on taking an intensive driving course as the sole means of learning to drive. • Lowering the age at which young people can start learning to drive to 16½. • Graduated driver licensing. This would include restrictions on the number of young drivers that can be carried by someone in the first six months after passing their driving test, reflecting the fact that the crash risk increases significantly with young passengers in the car. It would also include, in the first six months, restrictions on driving between 11pm at night and 4am. There would be an exemption however, allowing young drivers to drive to their workplace or in connection with education. During the graduated phase there would be a lower blood-alcohol limit. This would, in effect, be zero as it would only allow for the consumption of alcohol linked to products such as mouthwash. "We have side-stepped this issue for too long," the ABI's Director General Otto Thoresen said. "Northern Ireland is introducing reforms, and politicians in Westminster should follow their lead to help today's young drivers become tomorrow's safer motorists. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs."
As of 18 November, MOT certificates must show the mileage of the vehicle for the last three certificates, along with the mileage for the current test. It will mean a more accurate record of a vehicle's history can be given to potential used car buyers, and will help to prevent the crime of 'clocking'. Sue Robinson of the National Franchised Dealers Association said it was "great news" for used car buyers. "The NFDA has long campaigned for rigorous regulation of clocking and this change in legislation is a positive step to wipe out rogue activity," she said. "Consumers will benefit from the changes as it means they will have a completely accurate account of the current condition of the car they are purchasing."
Motorists will no longer have to search for their motor insurance certificate if they tax their car at the Post Office, under new plans outlined by Roads Minister Stephen Hammond. The change has been made possible by new checks of existing databases. The DVLA's records are now compared regularly with the Motor Insurance Database to identify registered keepers of vehicles that appear to have no insurance. "We are committed to getting rid of unnecessary red tape," he said. "There is absolutely no benefit in making motorists prove they have insurance when they buy a tax disc now that we regularly check existing databases for insurance. These proposals will make the whole process quicker, easier and cheaper." However Simon Douglas of AA Insurance said that to "knock out a simple and almost fool-proof check that insurance is in place, once every year or six months, is madness. It would be far better for Post Office counter staff to make an electronic check against the Motor Insurance Database." The proposal to scrap the requirement for motorists to produce a motor insurance certificate when purchasing a tax disc is currently open to public consultation. Car owners would also be able to update their vehicle records online – currently they can only do this by writing to the DVLA.
Over a third of drivers say they now keep their speed at a moderate pace to curb fuel consumption, new research by Autoglass has found. Over half (56%) of motorists surveyed said they would like to own a more fuel-efficient car, if they had the option. However, despite current financial pressures, over two thirds (73%) would not consider teaming up with their friends or family to share a car. Prices at the pumps have led to a change in attitudes towards driving, with close to half (45%) of male drivers choosing not to accelerate as aggressively as they would have a decade ago. Four in ten (42%) of female drivers polled prefer using fifth gear as much as possible, to be fuel-efficient. "Motorists have been hit by a number of factors over the past few years, and it's no surprise that high fuel prices continue to be their top bugbear," the MD of Autoglass Matthew Mycock said. "However, it's promising to see these factors prompt a change in attitudes towards driving. "By making small changes to the ways we drive, whether it be using gears correctly to reduce fuel usage, or carpooling to split overall costs, motorists can work together to reduce the overall stress that unfortunately often comes with driving in today's economic climate."
It's never too early to get your vehicle fully prepared for the wintery weather, by following a simple ten-step checklist.
GEM Motoring Assist has created the list, to help prevent drivers from being a victim of an accident or a breakdown as temperatures start to drop and conditions worsen across the country.
1. Check that your vehicle is properly maintained and fully serviced.
2. Ensure tyres have plenty of tread depth, are in good condition, and correctly inflated.
3. Radiators must contain anti-freeze, and also check that the cooling system is free from leaks.
4. Batteries must be in good condition (many garages will carry out this check free of charge).
5. Ensure windscreen wipers and washers are working effectively.
6. Washer bottles must be full and contain anti-freezing/cleaning additive.
7. Clean all lights and check they all work properly.
8. All windows and mirrors must be clean and clear from snow and ice before driving.
9. Keep fluorescent/high visibility jackets in the car, in case of a breakdown.
10. Store extra clothes or blankets in the vehicle, for the same reason.
"We know that tighter budgets and rocketing fuel costs have had a negative impact on motorists' car maintenance habits, as many see it as a low priority in these tough times," GEM's Chief Executive David Williams said. "However, this lack of care will undoubtedly make cars less reliable, and driving an unsafe vehicle puts road users in unnecessary danger. "Carrying out the necessary checks ahead of the winter weather, and being properly prepared, could make all the difference between a safe journey and one that could potentially end in disaster.
Uninsured cars face being crushed and drivers fined during a high-profile campaign launched by Strathclyde Police. During the campaign, called Operation Revoke, officers deployed at strategic locations with ANPR technology will target irresponsible motorists who drive without a licence or insurance. Between January and September this year already, 3,206 cars have been seized by officers and 4,069 motorist caught without insurance. In 2011, 3,753 vehicles were seized and 7,500 uninsured drivers caught. Of the 3,206 cars seized this year, 634 have been disposed of either by being crushed or sold at auction. "We have to make an impact on the thinking of those who continually flout the law and drive uninsured or with the wrong insurance - vehicles are insured for a reason and those who don't do this pose an incredible risk to others and leave the rest of us who pay insurance to pick up the cost," Superintendent Jim Baird said. If you want to check your vehicle insurance record is on the Motor Insurance Database, visit the free service at www.askMID.com. If your registration number is not on the database, contact your insurance provider to get the information updated.
After years of continual prices rises, it seems that car insurance premiums are finally starting to fall. MoneySupermarket analysed over 16 million quotes in the 12 months to June, and found an average decrease of over 10%. During the past 18 months, the national average car premium has fallen from around £550 to £478. Drivers in South Scotland have the cheapest premiums at £309 on average, some 60% less than the price paid by drivers in Greater London, the most expensive area. If you're coming up to renewal, MoneySupermarket warns, don't assume your current insurer will pass on any reduction and reward you for your loyalty – it's highly likely it won't. You'll need to shop around to find an insurer that will offer you a competitive deal.
Less than a year after transport secretary Philip Hammond declared that an increase in the motorway speed limit to 80mph was needed to "put Britain back in the fast lane", boosting productivity by reducing journey times, new transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin appears to have signalled a U-turn. "First and foremost in my mind will be road safety, and I will look at the evidence - there's a consultation taking place on that," he said. "But nothing will detract me from what is safe overall, and road safety has to be paramount. What we have to have in our mind is that speed does kill and most of the very serious accidents that take place on our roads involve people disobeying the speed limits." Critics of the proposal had argued that they would lead to more accidents and cost lives. "We warmly welcome Patrick McLoughlin's comments that his priority is the safety of road users, and his acknowledgement that managing traffic speed is crucial in preventing needless deaths and injuries," Julie Townsend, the deputy chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists is offering driving advice in response to the current severe weather warnings for heavy rain and wind.
Before setting off, set your heater controls - rain makes the windows mist up in seconds. You don't want to be fiddling with controls when you should be concentrating on the road.
Slow down. In the rain your stopping distance should be at least doubled. Giving yourself more space helps to avoid spray, especially when behind a large vehicle.
Keep your eyes on the road ahead and plan your driving so that you can brake, accelerate and steer smoothly - harsh manoeuvres will unbalance the car.
Strong winds can also unsettle your car and even change your direction of travel. Grip the steering wheel firmly and be aware of the effects of the elements on other road users, particularly motorcyclists and flat-sided vehicles.
If you have cruise control, avoid using it on wet roads - it may create problems if you start to aquaplane. See and be seen. As a rule of thumb, whenever you need to use your wipers you should turn your headlights on as well. Before overtaking, put your wipers on their fastest setting. In cases of severe flooding, you should reconsider making the journey at all. If it is unavoidable, and you have to drive through deep water, then take the following precautions: Drive on the highest section of the road and don't set off if a vehicle is approaching you.
Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.
If you can't see where you are going to come out of the water, such as when approaching flooding on a bend, think twice about starting to drive into it.
In deep water, never take your foot off the accelerator as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe. Once you're out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely. "A suddenly very wet road surface increases the chances of slipping when braking or steering, which is a problem not just for motorists but cyclists and motorcyclists too," the IAM's chief examiner Peter Rodger said. "When driving in wet conditions, remember that stopping distances will increase and visibility reduced. Drop your speed and give yourself more time to slow down."
The latest Sainsbury's Bank car buying index reveals that 21% of adults in Britain intend to buy a car between September 2012 and February 2013, an increase of three percentage points on the previous six-month period. The increase in consumer confidence suggested by these figures is supported by recent data from the Scottish Motor Trade Association, which show that new car sales in Scotland during August were 10% up on a year ago. "Our index provides a good indicator of consumer confidence, which judging by car sales seems to have increased since March this year as we predicted," Steven Baillie of Sainsbury's Bank said. "The latest results suggest that this trend is set to continue, potentially helped by the number of offers and deals available. The survey found that a substantial number of the people looking to change their vehicle were doing so largely for financial reasons, for example by cutting down their engine size or switching from petrol to diesel where appropriate. "While the number of people looking to buy a car is increasing," Steven added, "a large number of these are looking to downsize or choose more economical options. Many car buyers may be investing in more economical vehicles now as a longer-term budgeting mechanism to reduce their fuel bills or road tax."
The marketing team at Eastern-Western Motor Group has raised over £4,000 for charity by taking part in an adrenaline-fuelled rafting challenge on the River Tummel near Pitlochry. The day was organised by Cash For Kids, the fundraising group created by a network of local radio stations across the UK - including Radio Forth - to improve the welfare of local children. Last year it raised nearly £10 million for youngsters who are suffering from abuse or neglect, who are disabled and have special needs, or who simply need extra care or guidance. All the money collected through Cash For Kids stays in the area it was raised in. It is also Eastern-Western's adopted charity. The company provides them with a car to help with fundraising, as well as holding various fun activities in its dealerships throughout the year. This challenge was one of many events where the marketing department had got together as a group for the cause. The intrepid team of six - Lorna Hardie, Gary Ferguson, Hannah East, Will Harvey, Graham Wilson and Sandy Paton - had no previous experience of white water rafting, but rose to the challenge and, unlike some of the other fundraising teams taking part, completed the course without falling in or capsizing! "It was a great day out for everyone, and we're delighted that we've been able to raise over £4,000 that will help to give local children who need it a brighter future," said Eastern-Western's marketing manager Fiona Larnach.
Nine out of ten motorists plan to choose a different type of vehicle the next time they change – and top of the shopping list is a car with better fuel consumption, followed by lower road tax, a smaller car and lower CO2, according to a consumer survey conducted for the 2012 edition of British Car Auctions’ Used Car Market Report.
“The squeeze on household spending means motorists are looking at different ways of managing their travel costs,” BCA’s Tim Naylor said. “Some are deciding to choose slightly older, cheaper cars when they change their vehicle. Others are looking for more economical cars that deliver a better MPG as they try to combat rising fuel costs.”
Price, unsurprisingly, remains the top priority for used car buyers, with 41% of those surveyed saying this is the ‘crunch factor’ for them (up one percentage point from last year). Low mileage came second at 31% (up three points), followed by make and model at 30% (down five points).
The report also found that the influence of family and friends has become a key factor when motorists choose a used car. At 24%, it has overtaken personal experience (cited by 21% of the survey sample) which has declined from 40% plus in pre-recession years. Independent websites are now the third most important (16%), having moved up from fifth place last year.
According to the report, 6.7 million used cars were sold last year (up from 6.6 million in 2010) for a combined value of £35.7 billion – the highest ever recorded. Average car values remained flat at £5,336, while owners’ satisfaction with their used car rose two points to 95% in 2012.
Some 47% of used cars purchased were hatchbacks, 22% saloons, 10% MPVs, 7% estates, 4% off-road, 4% sports/coupé, 2% micro/city and 1% prestige. The balance (3%) was ‘other body types’. “Choosing a car that will be as flexible as possible probably accounts for the increase in the share of MPVs, up from 6% last year,” Tim Naylor said.
A huge proportion of drivers are failing to take a few minutes to conduct potentially life-saving checks before setting off on long journeys, a survey by Brake, the road safety charity, and Direct Line has found.
Nearly four in ten set off without checking their tyres are in a safe condition with the right pressure, while a similar proportion fail to make sure their lights and indicators are working. More than one in four don’t bother to check the oil and water, and the same number don’t ensure their washers and wipers are working.
Across all these vital checks, women are less likely to do them than men and young drivers far less likely than older drivers. More than one in four young people fail to undertake any of these checks at all, compared with 10% of all drivers.
Making sure your vehicle is in good working order before you set off needn’t take long. There are a few simple checks you can do yourself to make sure your vehicle is as safe as it can be. Check:
• Tyres have a tread depth of at least 3mm (any less is risky in the wet), are free from cracks, buckles or bulges, and are at the right pressure (using a gauge to check).
• All lights and indicators are working properly, by having someone else stand outside the car as you switch them on and off.
• Windscreen wipers and washers are working, by testing them while the car is stationary. Make sure your windscreen cleaner and water are topped up.
• Oil and water levels are correct.
• Windows and mirrors are clean and clear, and the latter positioned properly.
• Brakes are working, by applying them gently while driving very slowly in a safe, flat place with no other road users around. If they feel different to how they usually feel – such as taking longer to ‘bite’, are harder to push down or are making squeaking or grinding noises – get them checked with a mechanic immediately.
If you notice any problems, get them fixed straight away – and consult a garage if you have any concerns. You should also check that everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained before setting off:
• Children under 135cm in height are correctly strapped into a child restraint that's right for their size and weight, and properly fitted. Buy restraints that meet modern safety standards.
• All passengers over 135cm are wearing seatbelts and have a correctly positioned head restraint, so it is right up against the back of the head with the top level with the top of the head (so the head can’t move backwards).
• Any luggage or other items are safely packed in the boot out of harm’s way and so they won’t move about. Make sure your vehicle isn't overloaded.
• It's also crucial to get a good night's sleep before any long journeys, and to take a break at least every two hours to stay alert.
“By ensuring you undertake these simple checks, you can minimise the risk of a crash or breakdown – and there are benefits to your pocket as well,” said Andy Goldby at Direct Line. “For example, ensuring your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure will reduce your fuel consumption.”
Jazz and blues fans are the most easily diverted on the road, with a quarter saying they have got into car accidents by being too tuned into their music. Classical music fans, on the other hand, tend to be the most cautious with only 6% having veered off course.
That’s according to a survey by car insurer Allianz, which found that the average motorist listens to seven hours of in-car music a week – and that more than half (54%) of UK motorists want volume controls enforced on in-car music to stop it being a driving distraction.
“Our research revealed that one in ten car drivers say that listening to music has caused them to have or nearly have a car accident,” Natalie Woods of Allianz said. “This rises to nearly one in three amongst 18-24 year-old drivers. Singing along while driving can be fun. But, as the motorists we polled admitted, it can be a distraction.”
Men were most likely to be entranced by their music, as nearly a quarter (22%) either have had or nearly had an accident due to listening to music, compared with just 12% of women.
Drivers play music for an average of 72% of the time they are in the car and over a quarter (27%) of drivers admit to listening to music every time they are in the car – because they feel it makes the journey go quicker (61%), it’s relaxing (47%) and they simply enjoy singing along (42%).
Survey participants said that fellow passengers talking (48%), children (44%) and mobile phones (41%) also caused them to take their eyes off the road. Nearly one in five drivers admitted to having an accident due to talking to their passengers.
Driving no faster than 60mph will only add around two minutes to an average journey but could reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%, new research suggests. That, according to DriveGain, which has developed an iPhone app to help motorists save fuel as they drive, is because we tend to over-estimate how much quicker we will arrive when driving faster. Unless the roads are totally clear, other traffic on your route will tend to slow you down considerably. When driving at higher speeds, drivers tend to accelerate until they catch up with traffic ahead – at which point they brake to slow down. This constant acceleration and braking cycle uses much more fuel than travelling at a constant speed. The result is that drivers tend to use a lot of fuel for very little difference in their arrival time. Even reducing the maximum journey speed to 70mph has real benefits: fuel consumption is reduced by 6%, but journeys only take a minute longer on average. The DriveGain app uses an iPhone’s GPS to calculate how efficiently a vehicle is being driven. Combining information about the rates of acceleration, driving smoothness, and overall speed with the exact vehicle specification, DriveGain gives the driver feedback on how they can reduce the amount of fuel they are using. The basic version of the app is free, and offers an mpg reading plus a ‘journey score’ out of 100 for each trip. Additional displays including a cost meter and fuel savings meter can be purchased as add-ons.
The number of over 50s carrying out basic car maintenance has almost halved over the last five years.
Just one in ten motorists in this age group polled by Saga Motor Insurance said they would attempt basic repairs to their car, such as changing the battery, down from 17% five years ago.
As cars have become more complex, the over 50s have become less confident with car maintenance. Those who own a car that is more than ten years old are almost twice as likely to attempt to repair their car themselves than someone who owns a car less than one year old (15% vs 8%).
Over 50s in the South East, London and Scotland were the least likely to attempt their own car maintenance.
And gone are the days when people turned to family members or friends for help when they had car troubles, as only 3% of over 50s would ask their friend for help compared to 7% five years ago. Only 2% of women were likely to lift the bonnet and make repairs to their car compared with 15% of men. However, this could be a wise move as one in six (16%) men take their car to a garage after failing to make basic repairs themselves.
New car sales in Scotland were 9% higher in June than they were in the same month last year.
The latest official figures show that motorists bought 16,694 new cars during the month, out of 18,9514 bought in total across the UK (up 3.5%).
"We are delighted to see an increase of this size, leaving Scotland 5.35% ahead of last year's figures at the end of June," Douglas Robertson, chief exec of the Scottish Motor Trade Association, said.
"Private buyers have returned to the market with an almost 10% increase over the past six months, showing confidence in the new more fuel-efficient products now available. With finance now also being more readily available, it is the right time to invest in your next new car."
Research from the British Insurance Brokers' Association shows that 'black box' motor insurance sales have increased five fold in the last two years, and are set to snowball to around 500,000 in two years' time.
BIBA says that the 'black box' technology, also known as telematics, can offer savings on motor insurance of around 25% to 30%. Some young drivers can save up to £1,000.
The technology works by recording journeys or driving behaviour so that premiums can be accurately applied to a driver's 'risk profile'.
"The dramatic increase in black box technology follows the rising cost of premiums for young drivers, the decreasing cost of technology, and new product availability from insurance brokers," said BIBA's Head of Communications Leighann Forsyth.
BIBA also said that women, who are likely to see an increase in motor premiums later this year due to the European gender rating ban, could benefit from reduced premiums from telematics.
White cars hold their value best, but greens and maroons can be the kiss of death for terms of depreciation.
In a study comparing second-hand values to new prices, used car price guide publisher CAP found that white cars typically hold around 5% more of their value than the market average for a typical used vehicle.
CAP analysed the trade market performance of hundreds of thousands of vehicles over five years and found that, for mainstream vehicles, white was consistently the top performer. A typical model can be worth several hundred pounds more after three years than, say, an otherwise identical blue one.
"Reviewing CAP's disposal data over the last five years, black, silver and grey all performed consistently in line with the overall market," said CAP editor Chris Crow. "Colours such as blue, orange and red underperformed, while gold, green, maroon and turquoise were complete howlers costing their unfortunate owners anywhere between 4% and 6% against benchmark trade values.
"However, it is white cars which outperform the whole market, beating other common colours like blue by up to 6% and green by up to 8% (depending on colour-type and condition)."
In some cases, niche or sporting models are popular in ‘quirkier' colours and this accounts for the relatively strong performance of pink and yellow cars. But in the mainstream market for typical family cars, consumer tastes tend to be more conservative.
"When you're choosing the colour of your new car," Chris added, "consider how it will look to prospective buyers when you come to sell it as a used car. Of course, it works the other way too – for the used car buyer there are bargains to be had if you pick a less popular colour, because most of the depreciation has already occurred and you could save some serious cash."
All new tyres manufactured for sale within Europe are now being labelled according to their performance against three key criteria – stopping distance when wet, fuel efficiency and noise levels.
Retailers will be required to pass this information on to consumers from 1st November this year, but the labels have started appearing in dealerships and other garages already, as suppliers start preparing for the change.
Fuel efficiency (rolling resistance) and safety (wet grip) are categorised using an A to G scale of coloured bands, similar to the efficiency labels we now see on white goods, while noise levels are rated in decibels.
A top-ranked A-grade tyre could out-perform the lowest-ranked G-grade tyre by 30% for safety and 7.5% for fuel efficiency. This translates to a vehicle stopping three to four car lengths shorter from 50mph and a fuel cost saving of around £100 every year for the average motorist, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders.
"Before this label," the SMMT's chief executive Paul Everitt said, "customers only had price and brand to distinguish between more than 300 different types of tyres; now they have a set of comparable factors to make buying decisions easier."
A spokesperson for the tyre manufacturer Continental said the new label was a "real breakthrough" in providing standard performance data to motorists. But sounding a note of caution he added: "The EU label only shows three of more than 14 important criteria. Tyre tests from magazines will continue to be the most comprehensive source of information for motorists, because they provide complete and independent reports covering nearly all criteria for the most popular tyre sizes."
Bright red cars attract more bird droppings than vehicles of any other colour, new research has found.
It recorded the frequency that birds left their mark on cars in five cities around the UK over a two-day period, and the researchers found that 18% of red cars were marked with droppings, blue 14%, black 11%, white 7%, grey/silver 3%, and green 1%. The study found little difference between cities and the seaside in the colours that specific species of birds apparently aim for.
During the study, which was published by Halfords, drivers were also asked how quickly they removed droppings from their cars. Only one in six said they wiped off deposits immediately when they saw them, 20% said they took action "within a couple of days", while 55% waited until the next car wash. The remaining 8% either never washed their cars or left it to others to organise.
As well as being unsightly, insurance industry figures suggest the damage caused by bird-poop-stained paintwork costs motorists £57m a year in unnecessary repairs.
Car polish experts Autoglym said the damage to paintwork arose not from the acid or alkali in bird faeces, but from the lacquer softening and expanding to form an uneven mould around the droppings which produces a dull patch. Grainier textures from seed eating birds produce the most blemishes, hence pigeons are worse for motorists than gulls. So:
• Remove deposit at the earliest opportunity.
• A moist cloth should be used to gently lift the deposit from the vehicle surface.
• If the deposit is dry or doesn't lift easily, place a moist cloth over it for ten minutes to soften the deposit.
• Dispose of any cloth used to remove bird droppings immediately and carefully wash your hands, as birdlime can harbour disease. The British Trust for Ornithology were more circumspect in their view, however. "We do know that birds can be attracted to certain colours during display," a spokesperson said, "but it (droppings on cars) is probably more to do with where you park. If you park where birds roost, you are going to get more droppings on your vehicle."
There is a scam email in circulation which claims to be from the DVLA and which asks drivers to verify their personal details via an online link. It says the DVLA is updating its database and says that if you refuse to supply the information you will have to take your driving test again. It also includes a link to a fake DVLA form. Complete it and the fraudsters will have enough information to create a false identity, apply for passports and access bank accounts/credit cards. The DVLA advises that if you receive an email claiming to be from the DVLA (or indeed any other government department or agency) that asks for personal information, you should delete it immediately. "We never request such information in an email," a spokesperson from the DVLA said. "There are some tell-tale signs it is a phishing email because of spelling errors, and hovering your mouse over the link in the email rather than clicking on it reveals a completely different address to the DVLA and Directgov." It is not known where the scam email has come from, how the recipients were selected or how many have received it.
Car buyers are increasingly looking at fuel economy when choosing a car, and to a lesser extent carbon emissions. In a survey of motorists by Auto Trader, 71% said it would be a priority when buying their next car, with 43% saying that low carbon emissions should be a priority. This compares with 53% and 24% respectively when their present car was purchased. While the emphasis on fuel economy has increased during the purchasing decision process, so has the emphasis on low carbon emissions - a clear sign that motorists are taking a more environmental approach when selecting a car. The survey also found that many motorists have switched from petrol to diesel. 41% of respondents had previously owned a diesel car, while 52% presently drive one. 58% of them said that the main reason for changing was running costs. Young drivers, aged 17 to 24, appear to care least about fuel economy, with 65% stating that they didn't consider economy when buying their present car and 58% that they won't when buying their next car either. The most fuel economy conscious drivers were aged 65 and over, with more than 62% claiming it was a priority when buying their present car and 82% stating that it will be a priority when buying their next car. "It's not just today's concerns about the availability of fuel that is driving motorists to prioritise fuel economy when choosing a new car," Nathan Coe of Auto Trader said. "Increases in fuel prices and the growing pressure on family budgets over the past three years are all having an impact. The survey also revealed that the number of motorists who consider low emission to be a priority has almost doubled and we expect that number to continue to increase in the next few years."
Road safety charity the IAM is offering motorists advice on driving in heavy rain.
"A suddenly very wet road surface increases the chances of slipping when braking or steering, which is a problem not just for motorists but cyclists and motorcyclists too," the IAM's chief examiner Peter Rodger said.
In cases of severe flooding, you should reconsider making the journey at all. However if it's unavoidable, and you have to drive through deep water, the IAM recommends taking the following precautions:
• Drive on the highest section of the road and don't set off if a vehicle is approaching you.
• Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians.
• Drive slowly and keep going once you have started - make sure you have a clear run. In a manual car, keep the revs high by slipping the clutch (which means the clutch is not fully engaged) the whole time you are in the water.
• If you can't see where you're going to come out of the water, for instance when approaching flooding on a bend, think twice about starting to drive into it.
• In deep water, never take your foot off the accelerator as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe.
• Once you're out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely. "When driving in wet conditions generally," Peter Rodger said, "remember that stopping distances will increase and visibility will be reduced. Drop your speed and give yourself more time to slow down."
Car buyers have always been confident of getting expert information on motor finance products from Eastern Western Motor Group - and now it is guaranteed. The company has just been awarded 'SAF Approved' status by the Specialist Automotive Finance scheme. An SAF Approved kite-mark demonstrates that the business has committed to educate its staff on all the different finance products available to customers. The scheme was introduced in 2007 by the Finance & Leasing Association - the trade body for the motor finance industry - to improve finance knowledge in showrooms and give customers more confidence in their supplying dealer. Staff in all 27 Eastern Western showrooms passed the SAF competence test after months of hard work. "It's testament to Eastern Western's commitment to their customers that they have become SAF Approved," Paul Harrison, Head of Motor Finance at the FLA, said. "Car buyers across Scotland talking finance with this company can expect improved levels of competence and professionalism in those showrooms." And Sandy Risk, Business Development Manager at Eastern Western Motor Group added: "Eastern Western Motor Group is delighted to have achieved SAF Approved. As the recognised motor industry standard, we are confident our commitment to SAF will help us to improve our performance, and more importantly give our customers extra confidence that they are receiving the best advice available on new and used car purchases."
Almost one in five adults polled for the Sainsbury’s Car Buying Index said they were thinking about buying a car in the next six months. This marked an increase of 17% over the past year, and indicates a strengthening of consumer confidence from a low-point six months ago. The figures suggest that a significant number of people deferred replacing a vehicle and are now looking to do so. Around 20% of the money people say they intend to spend on cars will be sourced through loans, 10% up on 12 months ago. “A rise in planned loans may go hand in hand with the rise in intention to purchase new cars, as they naturally have a higher purchase value than used vehicles,” Steven Baillie of Sainsbury’s said. “We believe people may be considering more new cars as they approach their family budgeting over the mid to longer term, thinking about more economical options and lower road tax/fuel bills.” According to the study, 8% intend to buy a new vehicle in the next six months, as opposed to a used one. The survey also found that young people were the most likely age group to be intending to buy. >Men were more likely to be looking to buy a vehicle in the near future than women (19% and 16% respectively), but interestingly the difference in buying intentions was almost exclusively for new cars – men were twice as likely as women to be looking for a new car (10% and 5% respectively).
Several thousand V5C registration certificates or ‘log books’ stolen from the DVLA are continuing to help car cloners create false identities for illegal vehicles. The DVLA is currently replacing over 34 million vehicle log books after an estimated 400,000 blank ‘registered keeper’ forms were stolen in 2006. The documents were due to be shredded following a printing error. Buyers will continue to be vulnerable to the scam until the end of 2012 when the DVLA anticipates all original, blue log books will have been replaced by the new red versions. Now a survey of 1,290 buyers by Trusted Dealers, a used car sales website put together and owned by franchised dealers, had found that most motorists (81%) did not know how to spot a fake registration document, and that more than half (57%) were unaware there are rogue documents in circulation. If you are thinking of buying a used car privately, Trusted Dealers offers the following advice: 1. Check the V5C document’s serial number – if it falls within the following ranges, contact the police and don’t buy the vehicle: BG8229501 to BG9999030 and BI2305501 to BI2800000. 2. The stolen blue certificates have a different background colour on the Notification of Permanent Export (V5C/4) tear off slip on the second page, which looks mauve on the front and pink on the reverse. On legitimate documents, they should be mauve on both sides. 3. Check the provenance of any car before you buy it – find all the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle to make sure they match the documentation, and use an HPI Check to ensure they tally with the registration number. Neil Addley, the MD of Trusted Dealers, said: “Thieves have been using forged registration certificates for a number of years to legitimise stolen vehicles, as many car buyers who are presented with a convincing log book take it as proof of ownership. And despite many of the stolen books remaining in circulation, little is being done by the authorities to highlight the risks to buyers. “When the log books were originally stolen, the DVLA launched a hotline. However this is no longer active and, with minimal information available on the Government website, we felt it important to help buyers by offering some advice. Trusted Dealers prides itself on being the safest way to buy a used car and all our members have already been through the processes required to guarantee that a used car isn’t cloned, illegal or unsafe.”
Three out of four motorists don’t know how to check the oil in their car, new research from Mobil has found. Almost half of the drivers in the survey were not even sure why oil was used in their vehicle’s engine. And 94% were unaware that using the correct oil can prolong the life of their engine, as well as potentially improving fuel economy. All of which, says Mobil, means that “at a time when car owners are feeling the pinch, they could be heading towards expensive engine problems in the future.” “It's clear from this research that drivers are largely unaware of the benefits of using synthetic motor oil – and in some cases don’t even have a basic understanding of the fundamental role played by engine lubrication,” Dan McGoldrick of ExxonMobil Lubricants said. “Using the right oil for your engine can potentially improve fuel economy, reduce engine wear and save a lot of expense in the long run. Our aim is to help make drivers aware that checking their oil is essential for keeping cars running smoothly and efficiently.”
New car registrations in Scotland in April 2012 totaled 12,141 units, according to the latest set of figures from the Scottish Motor Trade Association. This was 4.8% higher than in April 2011, when 11,585 new cars were registered. The UK was 3.3% up with 142,322 units registered. “We are again pleased at the continuing upturn in new car registrations,” Douglas Robertson, the SMTA’s chief executive said. “It is the second consecutive month of growth and suggests that consumer confidence in the economy may be returning. “The growth in private demand for cars is higher than was anticipated, and we now look forward with slightly more confidence to the remainder of 2012.”
Digital radios are now the most popular must-have gadget for new car buyers, a survey by What Car? has found. 44% of those surveyed picked in-car DAB as their first choice, followed by a reversing camera (38%), mobile internet hotspot (10%) and lane departure warning system (8%). Fewer than 5% of cars in the UK currently have a DAB set fitted, but 23% of new cars sold in March this year had one as standard. Meanwhile, sales of DAB car audio for people to fit to their existing cars increased 40% in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2011. New cars are increasingly being fitted with digital radios and we expect this trend to accelerate with the majority of new cars being digitally enabled by the end of 2013,” Paul Everitt of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders said. The findings are supported by a recent Motors.co.uk survey, which found that motorists favoured digital radio and in-car wireless connection for their MP3s and smartphones as their top two technology features. Asked what features they would like to see in their next car, nearly two thirds of motorists said a digital radio, followed by wireless connection (47%), docking station for an MP3 player (42%), DVD players in the headrest (26%) and games consoles built into the headrests (14%). Nearly 60% of motorists said they would use a wi-fi hotspot in their car, a fifth would like to be able to update their Facebook status by voice recognition and one in six would like to be able to tweet via voice recognition.
Almost two thirds of people buying a new car in the year to February 2012 used dealership finance to make their purchase.
It was a record figure from the Finance & Leasing Association, which also revealed an increase in the number of people buying used cars using dealer finance – up 9% in February on the same month of 2011.
“The ability of dealerships to tailor the finance they offer, and to offer it at low rates, has meant that the proportion of cars bought using finance from the dealership has grown from around 47% two years ago to 64.7% now,” Paul Harrison, the FLA’s head of motor finance, said. “The flexibility offered by car finance means that a deal can be found to suit almost every budget.”
In the past three months, nearly 100,000 new cars, and over 175,000 used cars, have been financed at the point of sale – up 13% and 11% respectively on the same period 12 months ago.
Leasing continues to show the highest growth – up 50% – but still accounts for less than 10% of the new car finance market. The most popular finance product is PCP, with around 60% of the new car finance market. But HP remains the most popular product for used cars.
New cars registered in the UK last year were, on average, 18% more fuel efficient than the average car on the road, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders’ annual New Car CO2 Report.
The SMMT’s analysis shows a continued trend in falling emissions and improving fuel efficiency. 2011 emissions fell by 4.2% year on year to 138.1g/km CO2 (equivalent to 52.5mpg), and were more than 23% lower than when reporting began in 2000.
Executive and Specialist Sports cars made the biggest reduction over the past year, falling 9.5% and 7.0% respectively on 2010 figures, while the Executive (-34.9%) and Mini (-29.9%) segments recorded the biggest improvements over Year 2000 levels.
Diesel and alternatively-fuelled vehicles (mostly petrol-electric hybrids) continued their rise in popularity, taking a record 50.6% and 1.3% of the 2011 market respectively.
“The industry can be proud of the progress it has made in reducing CO2 emissions and improving fuel efficiency,” Paul Everitt, the SMMT’s Chief Executive, said. “We are seeing steady improvement in conventional technologies and the emergence of a range of alternative technologies, creating one of the most innovative periods for the global automotive industry.”
A Which? investigation has found that some car insurers appear to be taking consumers for a ride with exorbitant ‘hidden’ fees for basic policy changes and renewals.
Which? reviewed the terms and conditions on the websites of 39 insurers and found there are often costly fees for making the simplest of changes. Axa and Swiftcover for example charge £30 just to update your address details or change your vehicle (unless you make the changes yourself online, in which case it is free).
Some even charge for renewing a policy. 50plus Insurance Services and Hastings impose a fee of £10 and £5 respectively, and both also charge a £10 setup fee (although setup is free with Hastings online).
Cancelling can be costly as well, with Budget Insurance charging £75 just to cancel a car insurance policy. There are also often excessive amounts of interest if you want to pay in instalments. Budget Insurance, Axa and Swiftcover all charged between 29.3% and 32.3% depending on the policy, whereas Age UK and First Direct charge nothing extra for their monthly payment options.
Many insurers don’t even publish details of their charges on their website, making it near impossible for consumers to compare like for like.
“It’s a disgrace that insurers charge exorbitant fees to cancel, renew or make basic changes to a policy,” Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said. “We want them to be clearer about the fees they charge and to stop hiding the details away in pages of terms and conditions. The new regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, must ensure any charges reflect the actual cost incurred by insurance providers.”
A new academic study has found that eating or drinking at the wheel causes a substantial increase in drivers’ reaction times, potentially increasing the risk of an accident.
Commissioned by esure and conducted at the University of Leeds on a driving simulator, the study found that reaction times increased by 44% when eating behind the wheel. For example, if a motorist’s reaction time was five seconds on average when driving with two hands it would increase to just over seven seconds when eating at the wheel. When sipping a drink, reaction times increased by 22%. These drivers were less likely to maintain a steady lane position as well.
But when simply driving with one hand (and not eating or drinking), drivers were able to maintain the same level of performance as when driving with both hands.
“It is widely accepted that talking on a hand-held mobile phone may increase accident risk – hence the introduction of legislation,” said Professor Samantha Jamson at the University of Leeds. “But other activities that involve taking one hand off the wheel, such as eating or drinking, may also cause distraction, particularly when drivers take their eyes off the road to reach for or to unwrap food items.”
Mike Pickard, the Head of Risk & Underwriting at esure added: “We are appealing for motorists to properly plan their journey before leaving the house. Eat before you step into the car, and plan regular breaks at service stations to help prevent any cravings while driving.”
Avant-garde beauty in a 2X2 hybrid sport coupe.
Launched at the North American International Motor show in January 2012, our LF-LC concept has turned heads ever since. Agile, sporty and aggressive, it was conceived around the idea of 'fluid precision', manifesting itself in what the designers call 'Avant-garde beauty'. And it won the Eyes on Design award in the concept car category at the motor show.
Its striking looks hint at forthcoming design cues in the new wave of Lexus models. Designed at our Calty studios in California, it's a vision of what a sports coupe could be with its bold interpretation of our signature spindle grille and stunning daytime running lights.
The car's glass roof features a lightweight, cantilevered pillar and inside, the driver is enveloped by deeply scooped side panels and a high, curved console. A remote touch screen device ensures the LF-LC's operations are easy to use and twin 12.3-inch LCD screens provide information and navigation display. Inputs come from a touchscreen control board piercing the centre console. Used to control the audio system, climate controls and navigation, the interface features a pop-up touch-screen keyboard for more complex entries. Similar touch-screen surfaces on each door operate the windows, mirrors, seat adjustments and personal entertainment settings.
The NEW CT F SPORT is currently being toured around a number of shopping centres in the UK. This fantastic Lexus Hybrid Drive is being displayed in a specially constructed stand, where you can interact fully with the car and also speak to one of our knowledgeable brand ambassadors.
The stand has so far toured with the CT 200h at the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Meadowhall in Sheffield, Westfield Stratford in London, Highcross in Leicester, Bluewater in Kent, York Designer Outlet in York and with the CT F SPORT at Centre MK in Milton Keynes and Westfield Derby in Derby, creating a great buzz so far.
Come and see the new CT F SPORT for yourself at Braehead shopping centre, Glasgow on the 8-10 of March 2012:
Lexus has chosen the SEMA show, held in the Las Vegas convention centre, to reveal the new GS F SPORT. SEMA is the premier trade event for specialist automotive products, attracting more than 100,000 industry experts from over 100 countries.
With distinctive and assertive styling the new GS F SPORT creates a highly dynamic impression. Honeycomb mesh spindle grille, rear spoiler and exclusive 19" alloy wheels are unique to the F SPORT. And the bespoke interior features a new leather design, drilled sport pedals and F SPORT, dimpled leather, steering wheel. The GS 450h F SPORT is additionally specified with Dynamic Rear Steering, for highly responsive handling.
Powered by Lexus Hybrid Drive or a petrol engine, the new GS F SPORT models will go on sale in Europe in 2012.
It's not just Kylie Minogue and owners of the new CT 200h that have been won over by the Quiet Revolution. The campaign, best known for the TV advert featuring the pop superstar enjoying a relaxing drive in her CT 200h (not to mention a crescendo of world famous drummers), has earned Lexus a Quiet Mark award from the UK Noise Abatement Society.
The Quiet Revolution demonstrates the near-silent running of the full hybrid luxury compact car when moving around town on zero-emissions electric power. The effectiveness of the campaign has been recognised with UKNAS's award for excellence in quiet product design, presented to Lexus at a ceremony in London earlier this week.
Gloria Elliott, UKNAS Chief Executive, said: "The Lexus campaign aligns with the aims and ethos of the Quiet Mark to encourage the manufacture and marketing of quiet products to improve the aural environment for the benefit of all."
Paul Marshall, Lexus General Manager, Strategy and Marketing, said, "We are delighted to have received the Quiet Mark award, a fitting acknowledgement of a campaign that emphasised how quiet performance is an important and desirable element in the quality of the CT 200h."
Lexus has unveiled its all-new GS for the first time at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California, and we were there to meet the car in the flesh.
The newcomer is the first Lexus to get a new, more aggressive design language that‚Äôs set to characterize future models from the Japanese brand, and it's zig-zag grille and handsome proportions were met with approval from the crowds. We sat in the back while a couple in their fifties ‚Äì the target audience for the brand ‚Äì praised the car's styling, interior quality, comfort of the 18-way adjustable seats and even the reassuring thud the door made as it swung shut.
Interior quality has taken a huge leap. Running our hands over the materials revealed this is a car that's easily a match for the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A6 when it comes to quality. It's more hi-tech than all three of them, too. Dominating the interior is a 12.3-inch split screen monitor that controls all the car's functions. A mouse-like joystick navigates you around the menus and was satisfying and easy to use.
Among the many functions ‚Äì besides sat-nav, audio and phone connection, of course ‚Äì is a new service that allows you to download 'apps' through a 3G connection.
Engineers have answered criticisms of the GS's small boot by increasing capacity by 25 per cent. There‚Äôs as much safety equipment as on a Mercedes S-Class too. That means 10 airbags, collision detection, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist.
Underneath the newly designed body is a fresh platform that is more rigid than the current chassis and has a track 40mm wider at the front and 50mm at the rear. Combined with the use of lightweight materials and revised suspension, Lexus claims to have improved agility, ride comfort and steering precision.
At launch in early 2012 Lexus will offer a GS450h hybrid model and a GS250. The former is mostly unchanged from the current model, meaning around 300bhp from a combination of a 3.5-litre V6 engine and electric motor. The GS250 uses a 2.5-litre V6. Insiders have hinted that a small diesel engine will be offered to rival punchy and efficient rivals from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
After watching the windfall of publicity that befell Jaguar with its XJ and other British brands, Lexus is ready to make the most of another royal wedding. In this one, a specially prepared version of the Lexus LS 600h L will serve as the official "Royal Wedding Car" for the marriage of Prince Albert II of Monaco to Charlene Wittstock. Albert is the son of the late Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. Of course, Drive On, with our beer-and-pretzels sensibilities, would have chosen a mid-1960s Dodge Monaco for the occasion. Seems far more appropriate, even roomier than the Lexus, and much better publicity for the principality. But we guess the Lexus will do. The Lexus was modified to put the royal couple on full display. It will be one of seven Lexus stretch hybrids transporting guests that day.
COLOGNE: The legendary Nurburgring hosted the racing debut of Lexus's full hybrid CT today. Primed by Gazoo Racing, the motorsport specialists responsible for the racing Lexus LFA, the CT is competing in the Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy, contested over six hours on one of racing's most daunting circuits, which is 90km south-west of here. Almost 200 cars are lining up at the starting grid. Competing in the SP4 Class, the GAZOO Racing CT, like its road-going sister CT 200h model, features Lexus Hybrid Drive, but with a higher capacity 2.4-litre petrol engine instead of the usual 1.8 unit. The batteries and hybrid system are identical to the road car. At start-up and under braking, the race car uses just its electric motor, producing zero tailpipe emissions and using no fuel. The combustion engine seamlessly takes over at higher speeds with the electric motor providing extra power when accelerating and at racing speeds.
Elegant, contemporary and chic: you might choose the same words to describe both Kylie and the new Lexus CT 200h. Lexus is proud to announce a new partnership with the global superstar to launch its new full hybrid luxury hatchback into the heart of a new market sector.
The new relationship will see Kylie - one of the world's most iconic performers - supporting the introduction of the new Lexus CT 200h through the cross-media "Quiet Revolution" marketing campaign and publicity. In addition to appearing in the upcoming TV commercial and print advertisements, Kylie will take delivery of her own personally specified Lexus CT 200h.
At the same time, Lexus will be the lead sponsor of Kylie's Aphrodite - Les Folies 2011 UK tour - destined to be one of the most visually spectacular and technically complex shows ever staged in the UK.
Kylie, who has enjoyed huge success as an actor, singer, dancer, model and designer, said: "I am absolutely delighted to be working with Lexus on the launch of their new full hybrid CT 200h. I've been lucky enough to have a preview of the car which is both stylish and elegant and will definitely create a Quiet Revolution".
Belinda Poole, Lexus Director, said: "Kylie is the perfect ambassador for Lexus and the new Lexus CT 200h. Kylie has the energy, style and exceptionally popular public profile that will reach directly to customers new to the Lexus brand."
Kylie Minogue and a legion of drummers herald the arrival of the CT 200h.
A Quiet Revolution begins this week as Lexus initiates a memorable and star-studded campaign for the new CT 200h, the world's first full hybrid luxury compact car. And how better to spread the news than to recruit pop icon Kylie Minogue, supported by one of the most diverse and talented groups of drummers the world has seen or heard?
The musicians recruited for the television commercial, Drum Roll, represent the full spectrum of the music scene, from Pauli Stanley McKenzie from Gorillaz Sound System and ex-Smiths member Mike Joyce, to Joji Hirota and the Taiko Drummers and big band sticksman Vince Dunn. Filmed in an equally wide range of locations - including almost 30 musicians gathered in the wide open spaces of London's Bushy Park - they provide a loud and attention-grabbing prelude to the refined quietness of the CT 200h, with Kylie at the wheel.
As well as capturing prime time airspace on British television, the Quiet Revolution will also fully exploit the potential of social media, including official Lexus YouTube uploads of the full TV commercial, plus a behind-the-scenes feature and an extended interview with Kylie.
As Kylie herself explains: "The CT 200h is your own space for peace and quiet amongst the hustle and bustle of the world."
Belinda Poole, Lexus Director, said: "We believe the CT 200h is a revolutionary vehicle, bringing full hybrid technology to the luxury compact market for the first time. Our Quiet Revolution campaign is a perfect way of introducing this to the widest possible audience."
"Kylie is an ideal brand ambassador for Lexus as not only does she have immense appeal, she is also innovative and has a great personality which will reach out and connect with new customers that the CT 200h will bring to Lexus."
Lexus commissioned CAP to write a fully independent New Model Launch report for CT 200h incorporating an overview of the market place that the model is entering, how it compares to key competitors from a depreciation and Service, Maintenance & Repair (SMR) cost perspective, plus a synopsis of their driving experience.
The report is a balanced view of the CT 200h depicting the many competitive advantages of the car versus the key competitors.
Some highlights from the report as follows:
"It is anticipated demand for sub-100g/km CO2 vehicles such as CT 200h ‚Äì which also avoids the 3% BIK tax diesel surcharge ‚Äì is set to increase even further over the coming years.
In terms of Whole Life Costs, analysis of CAP SMR figures produces extremely favourable results for the CT 200h."
With its proven hybrid technology platform, the CT 200h returns class-leading fuel economy figures, especially in the urban cycle, meaning drivers with a higher proportion of city driving will particularly benefit from significant cost savings." Mark Norman, CAP Operational Development Manager.
‚ÄúThe interior of the Lexus is just pure luxury, and the fit and finish and the quality of materials used is equally as good as the German premium brands, if not better in some areas.
The ride and handling on either 16‚Äô‚Äô or 17'' wheels is as good as the BMW and similar to the Audi, so the Lexus offers the best of both worlds.
Lexus will increase sales as this is exactly what many customers have been waiting for.‚Äù Martin Ward, CAP Manufacturer Relationship Manager
Greener Vehicle discount and Alternative Fuel discount
Transport for London (TfL) has replaced the Alternative Fuel Discount (AFD) with the Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) with effect from 4 January 2011. The AFD was a 100% discount on the congestion charge for certain vehicles powered by alternative fuels.
Owners of Lexus vehicles that are currently registered for the AFD will continue to receive a 100% discount on the congestion charge for their car until December 2012 if they renew the registration of their car with TfL. If you do renew the registration of your car with TfL, you will not need to submit a certificate of conformity. This is because your car is recognised by TfL as manufactured hybrid vehicle rather than a vehicle that has been converted to run on electrical power.
The GVD provides a 100% discount from the congestion charge for cars which emit 100g/km of CO2 or less and which also meet the Euro 5 standard for exhaust emissions. Drivers of eligible vehicles do not have to pay the congestion charge provided that they register their vehicle with TfL for the GVD and pay the annual registration fee, which is currently ¬£10 per vehicle. For further information about the GVD please go to www.tfl.gov.uk/Roadusers/congestioncharging or telephone Tfl on 0845 900 1234.
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