Automotive News

PENALTY POINTS EQUAL HIGH INSURANCE PREMIUMS
- 10 May 2021
PENALTY POINTS EQUAL HIGH INSURANCE PREMIUMS
Having three penalty points added to your driving licence could see annual car insurance premiums increase by an average of £131, according to new research by comparethemarket. The new figures show the additional expense to drivers who are caught driving recklessly. The research found that car insurance premiums remain broadly flat if a driver goes from zero to three points on their licence, with the average annual premium increasing from £700 to £705. However, if you jump from three to six points, the average premium shoots up by more than £200 to reach £937. The cost of insurance gets progressively higher the more points are added to your licence, reaching an average premium of £1,009 for those with 12 points. This means that, on average, having three points added to your licence costs £131 in higher premiums each year. In March 2021, 2.64 million drivers had points on their licence according to comparethemarket's analysis of the DVLA's latest figures. This represents just a 3% decrease compared with March 2020 when 2.72 million drivers had points on their licence, despite a year of travel curbs and lockdowns due to the pandemic. Examination of the DVLA's figures also reveals that 71% of all penalty points were given to men and 60% of points were given to drivers over the age of 40. Penalty points typically stay on a driver's record for four years, although they are only active for the first three years. For more serious offences, such as causing death by dangerous driving or drink-driving, the points will stay on a driver's licence for 11 years. Looking at the most recent Department for Transport data available - from 2017 to 2019 - 72% of all penalty points given were for speeding offences in the three years. A further 12% were given for licence, insurance and record-keeping offences, and 4% were given for dangerous or drunken driving.
DRIVERS CALL FOR GREATER REGULATION OF CYCLISTS
- 10 May 2021
DRIVERS CALL FOR GREATER REGULATION OF CYCLISTS
Almost 70% of UK drivers say new legislation is needed to deal with the rise in cyclists, according to a new InsuretheGap survey of 2,000 UK drivers, with over six in ten (63%) believing electric bikes need different laws to push bikes. The survey found that 70% think electric bikes should have an annual safety test, like an MOT; and 59% agree that push bikes and electric bikes should have a registration number. Almost three-quarters (74%) of drivers say cyclists should have third party liability insurance, and almost half (49%) think that cyclists should pay a road tax. 84% of drivers say helmets should be a legal requirement for road cycling (80% men and 88% women). Electric bikes are becoming increasingly common on the UK's roads. According to the Bicycle Association (BA), e-bike sales doubled between January to October 2020, accounting for one pound in every five spent on bikes. Electric bikes' motors must have a maximum power output of 250 watts and should not be able to propel the bike when it is travelling more than 15.5mph. According to the survey, 84% of drivers also want laws to apply equally to cyclists and drivers. For example, at the present time, cyclists are exempt from breathalyser laws, and speeding cyclists can only be booked for 'cycling furiously' under the 1847 Town Police Clauses Act, or for 'wanton and furious driving' under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1948) if they cause bodily harm to any person. Ben Wooltorton, Chief Operating Office, InsureTheGap.com, said: "It's clear that drivers have concerns about how cyclists and cars can share the roads, however many drivers are also cyclists, and it's in everyone's interest that roads are as safe as possible. In fact, over half (55%) of drivers would like more cycle lanes, and two fifths (42%), rising to two thirds (64%) of under 34s, would cycle more if there were more cycle lanes."
PANDEMIC EXPOSES UNDERLYING HARDSHIPS FACED BY WORKING DRIVERS
- 10 May 2021
PANDEMIC EXPOSES UNDERLYING HARDSHIPS FACED BY WORKING DRIVERS
A new study by IAM RoadSmart, the UK's largest independent road safety charity, has exposed the underlying hardships faced by working drivers that were already prevalent before the pandemic and are now likely to worsen. The newly-released whitepaper paints a worrying picture for workers who drive for a living. Delivery drivers, taxi and private hire drivers, the gig-economy and even company car drivers face constant pressure to keep up with demand and this, along with resultant fatigue, has a negative impact on their mental and physical health. The paper also highlights the effect of weak employer strategies, lack of policies and prosecution for health and safety lapses, together with the ever-present strain from doubts over the economy, job security, redundancy and reduction in pay due to furlough. IAM RoadSmart is therefore calling for urgent changes to be made to support working drivers through a raft of solutions such as driver training, policies, advice and procedures. These include education and guidance on avoiding driver fatigue and an evaluation of policies and procedures such as the length of the driving day and shifts. Tony Greenidge, chief executive officer at IAM RoadSmart, said: "What COVID did was expose what in many cases was already there. "Individuals involved in driving for work were already rushed and under pressure. Post-COVID they probably will be more so because there's more fear about job security and more pressure on employers to recover lost ground. But at least now we are discussing it."
HELP FOR LEARNER DRIVERS TO GAIN CONFIDENCE
- 10 May 2021
HELP FOR LEARNER DRIVERS TO GAIN CONFIDENCE
As driving lessons have been unable to take place for much of the past year, hundreds of thousands of teens have had their learning to drive journey put on hold. A survey of 150 driving instructors by the UK's largest pre-17 driving school, Young Driver, revealed that getting lessons booked in now restrictions are lifted may not be that easy. Eight out of 10 instructors said they had a waiting list of, on average, 10 learners they can't currently fit in the diary. Half (47 per cent) said they would struggle to provide as many lessons as learners wanted and one in three (36 per cent) said learners who haven't started learning yet may have to wait months for their first lesson. That means it is likely that more learning will have to be done away from professional tuition - falling to parents and technology to fill the gaps. Sue Waterfield, head of marketing at Young Driver, said: "We could see this was going to be a big problem post-lockdown, so we wanted to do something to help. We have created and launched the first set of 360?? virtual driving lessons, accessible via an app. These can be invaluable for learners looking to keep their skills fresh in between lessons - and for parents who might want to make sure they're teaching the right way when they take youngsters out to practice." The Young Driver App takes learners from first lesson to driving test, providing lesson practice via 360?? videos which can be watched on a smartphone or VR headset. The videos, which are rotatable so they can be seen from every angle, are filmed with Approved Driving Instructors, with a voiceover written and narrated by driver's champion Quentin Willson. The videos cover everything from tackling junctions and roundabouts to manoeuvres such as parking or reversing. This is alongside theory test practice modules, hazard perception videos and top tips - everything needed to complement in car tuition.
ENDANGERED CLASSICS GIVEN NEW LEASE OF LIFE
- 10 May 2021
ENDANGERED CLASSICS GIVEN NEW LEASE OF LIFE
Classic cars such as the Austin Metro, Austin Maestro and Hillman Imp, that once graced UK roads in their millions but are now a very rare sight, have been given a new lease of life. Keeping the candle burning for some much-loved iconic classics that are rapidly dwindling in number is one of the UK's leading driving experience providers, Trackdays.co.uk. Indeed, its new 'Drive Dad's Car Experience', released in time for Father's Day on Sunday 20th June, allows participants to drive cars that were commonly seen on driveways up and down the UK, but are now extremely rare commodities, including the Austin Maestro, Ford Sierra, Vauxhall Cavalier and Robin Reliant. In fact, according to data from Howmanyleft.co.uk, a website which shows how many cars of any make or model are left on Britain's roads, there are as few as 144 taxed Austin Maestros in the UK, 296 Austin Metros, 749 Hillman Imps and 1,091 Reliant Robins, a handful of which can be driven on the new experiences available to book. Dan Jones, operations manager at TrackDays.co.uk, said: "This is a great opportunity to relive childhood memories behind the wheel of everyday classics that are quickly becoming endangered species." With slightly more on UK roads, but still many thousands down on their heyday, are the Vauxhall Cavalier with 1,606 left and the Ford Sierra with 2,323 left, both models which can now also be enjoyed on a driving experience. Dan added: "It doesn't bear thinking about but there is the possibility that some iconic classic cars, that were incredibly popular in their time, could disappear for good over time. "With so few left, a classic car driving experience might be one of the only opportunities for a nostalgic drive down memory lane in some much-loved motors."
74% OF OVER 55s BUY THEIR CAR IN CASH
- 10 May 2021
74% OF OVER 55s BUY THEIR CAR IN CASH
According to a recent InsuretheGap survey of over 2,000 UK drivers, nearly three-quarters (74%) of car owners over 55 bought their car outright without using finance, compared to half (54%) of 34-54 years and a third (33%) of under 34s. On average, three-fifths (62%) of cars were bought outright via cash or debit card, 8% using personal contract purchase (PCP), 7% were bought on hire purchase, 5% loan from a bank, 4% on lease and 4% privately arranged finance. 3% had finance but were not sure what type, 3% paid by credit card, 3% were given as a gift, and 1% had a loan from friends or family. The Opinium survey found that 14% of under 34s use a PCP to finance a car purchase, compared to just 7% of over 55s, and 9% of 35-54 years. South West England is the region most likely to buy a car outright (78%), followed by the East of England (71%), compared to Wales (66%) and Scotland (59%). Londoners are the least likely to (44%). Ben Wooltorton, Chief Operating Officer of InsuretheGap.com, said: "However people buy their car, whether outright, finance, or loan, buying a car is one of the biggest purchases most people make, and drivers should consider how to protect their investment. Cars depreciate quickly, and if a car is written off or stolen, insurance companies will only pay the value of the car at the time of the incident, not the amount that was originally paid for it."
HYBRID CAR SALES SURGE
- 05 May 2021
HYBRID CAR SALES SURGE
Surging demand for new hybrid cars is also being reflected in the used market, with sales outlets like Buyacar reporting high proportions of hybrid customers. But a gap is emerging between brands when it comes to the popularity of hybrid as a consumer choice over diesel or petrol, analysts say. Sales of many car models where there is a choice of fuel types are now seeing the hybrid option dominate, but this appears to reflect individual brands' reputations as hybrid car makers, rather than the true availability of a hybrid choice. For example, Buyacar says that Toyota's Yaris hybrid outsells the petrol variant by three to one, doubtless due to the Toyota brand's longstanding heritage of hybrid cars which most famously began with the legendary Prius. In contrast, when it comes to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, diesel still wins the hearts and minds of buyers with less than 5% choosing a hybrid. In the case of the Mercedes A-Class the hybrid share of sales falls to a negligible 1.3%, with diesel outselling petrol also by a factor of two to one. The same goes for the Volkswagen Golf - where petrol proves most popular - and the BMW 3 Series, which continues to see diesel account for 76.4% of sales. Car size does not appear to be a factor, as the Outlander, from outgoing brand Mitsubishi, sees hybrid accounting for 57% of sales this year. No customers have opted for the Hyundai Ioniq petrol variant this year, with the hybrid accounting for 100% of sales.
WARNING THAT EV CARS WILL BRING ELECTRICITY GRID POWERCUTS
- 05 May 2021
WARNING THAT EV CARS WILL BRING ELECTRICITY GRID POWERCUTS
With the sale of new petrol cars banned by 2030, the UK needs a vast investment in both generation capacity and, particularly, distribution to meet the increased demand for electricity this will bring. But with this 9-year clock quickly ticking, £billions of essential investment is being held back through a lack of information and data. A new App, to be developed by Zuhlke UK will start overcoming this by providing green investors with data, models and insights that it is hard for outsiders to the UK electricity sector to acquire. The new app will save potential investors months of effort in finding data they can trust and decide the best locations to install charging infrastructure, with value added information such as demand at different times of day and in different seasons. The current UK electricity grid was primarily set up to deliver electricity to industrial centres in the 1950s, not the widespread high demand we will soon find when, for instance, everyone arrives home at 6pm after work and plugs the car in. For instance, the Hinckley nuclear power station in Somerset was created to supply electricity to the industrial areas of South Wales. To get the electricity from Hinkley to the nearby Somerset town of Yeovil to charge cars, it effectively goes via South Wales to Didcot (near Oxford) and then back to the West Country. That is a simplification, but it illustrates that clever minds have to come together to solve many big problems facing the UK's electricity infrastructure. When you consider the increased power demands from the suburban car owners of such conurbations as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow it is easy to see that without huge and well targeted investment, Britain in the 2030s will have regular brownouts from the demands of electricity-guzzling cars replacing petrol ones.
87% OF DRIVERS HAVE A CAR THEY HARDLY USED IN THE LAST YEAR
- 05 May 2021
87% OF DRIVERS HAVE A CAR THEY HARDLY USED IN THE LAST YEAR
A massive 87% of car owners have a car which was hardly used during the last year, with 14% thinking of getting rid of a car because of the pandemic. The decision to sell a car might be easier for urban car owners who use their car for six hours or less a week, as new research has found they could save around £800 a year if they switched to a Car Club; and for those driving only four hours per week, a saving of over £1,700 a year could be made. A study by iCarhireinsurance.com looked at the costs to own a car compared to using a Car Club. It found that an owner of a Ford Focus who only need to access their car for six hours a week (and drive about 2,000 miles a year) would pay approximately £3,700 a year, whilst a Car Club user would pay approximately £2,900 a year, while someone using their car only four hours a week would pay £1,980, a saving of £1,720 a year. Membership of a Car Club costs around £60 a year with Zip Car or Enterprise Car Club and includes insurance, petrol (up to 60 miles a day), full MOT and servicing and breakdown cover. Members can then use a mid-sized club car, e.g., a Ford Focus, with hourly charges from around £8.39 (weekdays) to £9.40 per hour (weekends), costing between £50.34 - £56.40 to drive six hours a week. An additional consideration is Car Club excess insurance to take the excess amount to zero in the event of the car being damaged or stolen. Specialist providers, like iCarhireinsurance.com, sell an annual Car Club policy for £69.99, reducing the excess to zero, while Enterprise charges a monthly fee of £10 to take the excess to £100, or there is a £750 excess without it. This makes a yearly Car Club cost, using an independent Car Club excess policy, and driving a standard vehicle Car Club car, e.g., a Ford Focus, for six hours a week of £2,907 and £1,981 for four hours week.
CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFTS RISE
- 05 May 2021
CATALYTIC CONVERTER THEFTS RISE
The theft of catalytic converters is one of the fastest rising crimes in the country, with the number of devices being stolen reportedly rising six-fold in the last year. Thieves are after three precious metals found inside the devices, the prices of which have skyrocketed in the last few years. Hybrid cars, in particular, have been targeted by thieves, because they produce lower emissions, so the precious metals are less corroded in their catalytic converters. But which parts of the country are hardest hit when it comes to the theft of catalytic converters and which have seen the biggest increases over the last few years? Well, it's not much of a surprise that London has the highest amount of catalytic converter thefts over the last three years, with a total of over 15,000, with 12,000 of those thefts taking place in the last year. Birmingham came in second with 320, with 287 also taking place in neighbouring city Coventry throughout the same period. While manufacturers themselves are starting to take steps to make their cars safer from thieves, there are a few steps that you can take: Install CCTV and alarms in the area where you leave your car overnight. Place a protective covering over your vehicle's catalytic converter. Park your vehicle to make it harder to access from underneath (i.e. alongside a fence, kerb or with the bonnet facing a wall). Etch a serial number onto the catalytic converter to make it more distinctive.
e-Up! - Insurance Costs Down!
- 05 May 2021
e-Up! - Insurance Costs Down!
The VW e-Up! is the cheapest electric vehicle to insure in the UK, according to research by BookMyGarage.com. A study from the MOT and service price comparison site revealed the cheapest EVs to insure, a list topped by the VW e-Up!, closely followed by the SEAT Mii electric and the Vauxhall Corsa-E. At the other end of the scale, Tesla models featured prominently, with the Model X found to be the most expensive EV to insure, ahead of the Model S. The new research also revealed that premiums for young drivers were particularly expensive, meaning that, despite embracing green technology, they could be priced out of environmentally-friendly options. When comparing 16 popular EVs currently available with an equivalent petrol or hybrid variant, the data showed insurance premiums for a 22-year-old were 20% higher for EVs compared to just 10% for a 35-year-old. Electric vehicles reached record sales figures in the UK in January according to the SMMT, with Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) seizing 6.9% of the market share, compared to just 2.7% during the same period in 2020. Last month, the government announced it was cutting the plug-in grant from £3,000 to £2,500, and capping eligible vehicles at £35,000, a decision which was criticised by the SMMT.
DRIVERS IGNORE KEY VEHICLE REPAIRS
- 05 May 2021
DRIVERS IGNORE KEY VEHICLE REPAIRS
New research from Churchill Motor Insurance reveals over the past five years 19.2 million drivers (46 per cent) have ignored necessary repairs to their vehicles for more than a month, costing them an average of £560 - the equivalent of £10.7 billion. A third of drivers (13 million or 32 per cent) admitted to leaving damage to bodywork for more than a month, with five million not repairing it for more than a year. Alarmingly, it's not just cosmetic issues being left - nearly six million have waited to sort out problems with their brakes and the average time taken to repair the issue was over two-and-a-half months. Further research with mechanics revealed motorists knowingly driving with damage is an issue they deal with regularly - two-thirds (67 per cent) of those questioned said they repair vehicles every week where the issue has been left longer than it should have been. Two out of five (45 per cent) say it's a daily occurrence. The main reason for driving with damage is that motorists believe the issue is only cosmetic, while a fifth ignore these issues because they know they can get away with it. Around 19 per cent say they cannot afford repairs, while lockdown and a lack of time were also contributing factors.
CHANGE IN LEASING PREFERENCES
- 28 April 2021
CHANGE IN LEASING PREFERENCES
Car leasing specialists Cars on Demand has undertaken a survey of its customers looking into the most popular and expected vehicle types for commuting in 2021. The internal survey discovered that from Cars On Demand data, it appears as though the coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the cars that people are leasing. To give an example, 29% of people leased medium-sized five-door cars in 2019, only 10% did so in 2020. Similarly, although 11% of people chose premium saloon cars in 2019, only 4% did so in 2020. Instead, people upsized their family vehicle. As a result, 47% of people chose to lease either a small SUV, family SUV or premium SUV in 2020. This follows recent news that drivers living in urban areas demand an SUV more than any other vehicle type, which is a concern for the environment. From the survey conducted, the most popular vehicle types expected to be driven in 2021 (post-lockdown) will be the Family SUV (22%), Medium Premium Hatch (20%), Premium SUV (18%), Medium 5 Door (10%), Small City/cars (8%), Small SUV (7%) and Premium Saloon Car (4%).
A SPA FOR YOUR WHEELS!
- 28 April 2021
A SPA FOR YOUR WHEELS!
Dreaming of that perfect getaway? The nice hotel, the buffet breakfast, the days by the pool? Ever thought your tyres might be feeling similar? Well, a Chorley-based wheel repair and refurbishment business - which prides itself on its quality of care and standard of service - has just built the UK's first 5 star Hotel & Spa for your wheels. It's calling it the go-to destination for your wheels to relax, rewind and recuperate after a busy season of ferrying you about. DA Techs came up with the idea through working with thoughtful car owners, many of whom follow sound advice to keep a set of Summer and Winter tyres and get them changed every March / April, and again in October / November, as each new season rolls around. However, the storage of these spare tyres often takes up a large amount of space in any ordinary garage and the requirement to keep tyres cool, dry, well ventilated and away from direct sunlight, to prevent the quality from becoming affected, can become a difficult one. So, instead, the easy solution provided by DA Techs is that customers can now sign their tyres into the new 'Hotel & Spa', where they will be stored, with any damages repaired, and fully treated to be brought back up to manufacturing standard. In other words, some serious TLC will take place!
CAR INSURANCE COSTS FALL
- 28 April 2021
CAR INSURANCE COSTS FALL
The average annual car insurance premium has fallen by £55 from the previous quarter, according to the latest Premium Drivers report from comparethemarket. This is the steepest fall in premiums over a three-month period since this research began in 2012. The average premium in Q1 2021 (December 2020 - February 2021) has dropped to just £652. This represents the lowest quarterly average for car insurance premiums since Q3 2015, when a typical premium cost £606. Premiums have also declined by an average of £103 year-on-year, as the pandemic has caused a sharp drop in the cost of insurance. This also represents the largest 12-month decline on record. There is usually a seasonal drop in the cost of car insurance in the first few months of the year, but this trend has been significantly accelerated by the pandemic in Q1 2021. During the past year, the Government's travel restrictions have resulted in fewer cars on the road, which in turn has led to a 19% decline in car insurance claims (according to the Association of British Insurers). Insurers seem to have passed on some of these savings to motorists through lower premiums. The cheapest premium typically available in Q1 2021 has also tumbled by £68 year-on-year. It now stands at £560, falling from £603 in Q4 2020. This drop means there are still significant savings available to drivers who shop around for the best deal when their policy comes to an end. Motorists can save an average of £92 by switching to the cheapest premium available. A drop in the number of inexperienced drivers on the road may also have contributed to the decline in car insurance claims and subsequent fall in premiums. The latest figures from the DVLA show a 48% drop in the number of people passing their practical driving test in 2020, compared with the previous year, as the pandemic prevented or discouraged many people from learning to drive. However, young drivers have seen the greatest financial benefit from the fall in premiums. The average cost of car insurance for drivers aged under 25 has sunk to £1,097, down from £1,282 in the same quarter in 2020. The cheapest premium typically available to these young drivers has also declined to £912. This means young drivers could save a substantial £185 by switching to the best deal when their premium comes up for renewal.
CURIOUS TEST DRIVE DESTINATIONS
- 28 April 2021
CURIOUS TEST DRIVE DESTINATIONS
With test drives allowed once more after dealerships reopened on 12th April, dealers across the UK have shared their most bizarre passenger seat experiences with CarGurus. The survey revealed that test drives are not as plain sailing as you might think, with dealers having to go beyond the call of duty, whether that be accompanying a customer to collect their dry cleaning or doing the weekly grocery shop. Top five unusual places dealers have been taken to on a test drive Coffee shop drive-through The supermarket car park for the weekly shop A tour of Old Trafford stadium Testing the width of the car in the customer's driveway To collect the customer's dry cleaning One dealer - a diehard Liverpool supporter - recalled being driven around Old Trafford by an insistent Manchester United fan. Test drives to the local supermarket and coffee shops were more common, yet equally peculiar excursions. The survey also highlighted some baffling questions that dealers had faced while sitting in the passenger seat, most notably a customer asking for clarity on which pedal was the brake, with another asking where the nearest toilet could be found. Another customer also proudly claimed that they had passed their driving test, the morning of the test drive.
PUPGRADE YOUR DOG
- 28 April 2021
PUPGRADE YOUR DOG
More than a third of new dog-owning motorists had to 'pup-size' last year - buying a bigger or more practical car to accommodate their pets - according to research by CarGurus. The pandemic saw a surge in interest in canine companions, with online puppy searches soaring by 115%. The survey of 2,000 drivers with dogs revealed a fifth (22%) bought or adopted their most recent dog after the start of lockdown. The survey also found that 35% of recent dog owners said they had to buy a larger or more practical vehicle because of the pet, spending an average of £7,594. The data suggests of an estimated 800,000 puppies and dogs bought in the UK each year, 280,000 (35%) would result in their owners buying a new vehicle. This in turn would mean new owners 'pupgraded' their car to accommodate their new canine friends, spending nearly £2.1 billion in total (£7,594 on average per vehicle). To help new, or future, dog owners to find the right vehicle for them, CarGurus has developed a new tool, the Pupgrader, which suggests the right vehicle based on the size of their dog and whether or not they also need to transport other family members. The tool, launched during National Pet Month, has been developed to ensure recommendations are made based on a fully-grown dog so consumers aren't caught off guard by a fast-growing puppy. It was created after research by CarGurus found more than a quarter (27%) of dog owners admitted they should have thought more about the car they owned when getting their pet - with this number increasing to 61% among the 'lockdown dog owners'. The research also delved into what features dog owners were looking for when purchasing a car. It found 38% wanted wipe clean surfaces inside the car, the same number wanted rear doors and 31% said durable materials were an important feature which impacted their buying decision. As a result, 40% said they opted for an SUV, with 23% choosing a family hatchback and 9% going for an estate car. When out on the road, 39% of drivers reported keeping their dog on the back seat, while 28% put their dog in the boot. Almost half (43%) of dog owners said easy access was an important feature when car searching, with the same percentage saying a large boot made all the difference.
WHICH EVS ARE MOST POPULAR WORLDWIDE?
- 28 April 2021
WHICH EVS ARE MOST POPULAR WORLDWIDE?
Electric vehicles (EVs) are the future of transport, and as battery capacity continues to improve, they're cornering more and more of the market. With several countries now planning outright bans on the sale of petrol and diesel cars within a decade, most major manufacturers are scrambling to deliver the most innovative and impressive advances. So who are the current runners and riders? And, according to Google search data, which is the most searched EV in each global country? Well, Europe's searches are dominated by the Tesla Model 3, with the second-highest number of countries showing a preference for the Nissan Leaf (notably Russia). The Renault Zoe took third spot overall, while the Polestar 2 dominates in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway. Predictably Tesla has a monopoly over North American searches with its Model 3, while the Model X enjoys top spot in several countries in Central America and the Caribbean. Only two countries favour anything beyond the Tesla range, with the BMW i3 most popular in Guatemala and the Hyundai Ioniq the top choice in Trinidad and Tobago. Tesla's dominance also extends to South America, and while the results still favour the Model 3, there's a greater mix here among the brand's models than in other territories. The only country in which a Tesla isn't the most searched is Ecuador, where the Hyundai Ioniq takes top spot. Tesla's Model 3 and Model X dominate the searches in Asia, with the Nissan Leaf coming out top in a handful of countries. Other notable results include the Audi e-tron taking the top spot in Pakistan and the Honda E winning on home turf in Japan. The Tesla Model 3 is the most searched EV in the majority of African countries, followed by the Model X. The BMW i3 was the only other EV to come top in more than one country, winning over both Libya and Niger. Finally, in the Oceania region, it's a clear win for the Tesla Model 3, which came out as the most popular EV in both Australia and New Zealand. However, the island nation of Fiji seems to favour the Hyundai Ioniq.
CHERRY PICK A GREAT DAY OUT
- 19 April 2021
CHERRY PICK A GREAT DAY OUT
Japanese heritage and traditions are central to the Lexus brand, and in its home country many of its employees will be enjoying the tradition of hanami ('flower viewing') this spring. As lockdown eases in England and cherry trees start to flower, Lexus is suggesting six of the best places to drive to and enjoy the cherry blossom in all its glory. In Japan, cherry blossom is more than just the first sign of spring; it is a symbol of renewal, and regeneration. Beneath the blushing boughs of sakura (cherry blossom), people gather for picnics and parties, welcoming winter's end, refreshing old friendships, and planning for the year ahead. Celebrations last from late January to late April as the warm front activates life and colour from the southernmost outpost of the Okinawa archipelago to the northern island of Hokkaido. This tradition will often involve food and drink infused with the aromatic flavours of cherry blossom. Lexus suggestions on where to see cherry blossom in England (please check websites and adhere to latest Covid guidelines): RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey Visit Wisley this spring and you'll enter the estate through an avenue of 140 blossoming cherry trees - a fitting introduction to this glorious garden. With its pure white flowers and light perfume, the Prunus x Yedoensis species is a favourite in Japan and was selected for Wisley by Royal Horticultural Society experts for its beauty and resilience. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Kew's 'Cherry Walk' is spectacular. Linking the Temperate House and Palm House, this blossoming boulevard showcases some truly sublime sakura - best enjoyed between April and May. Pause for a moment at the three Japanese Landscapes, located near the Chokushi-Mon (Japanese Gateway) which were designed in the image of traditional Japanese gardens, complete with stone lanterns, raked gravel, and a fragrant flourish of cherry trees. Also try: Hinton Ampner, Hampshire, Batsford Arboretum, Gloucestershire, RHS Garden Rosemoor, North Devon & Birmingham Botanical Gardens
1 IN 5 BRITS WANT TO BUY A CAR IN 2021
- 19 April 2021
1 IN 5 BRITS WANT TO BUY A CAR IN 2021
As car dealers and forecourts threw their doors open to the public on 12 April, new data from leasing.com shows that 18% of Brits are set to buy or lease a new car in 2021. The study, conducted almost a year after lockdown began, looked into the state of the auto market to understand what's to be expected over the next 12 months. With millions furloughed and many more forced to work from home during the pandemic, the demand for cars plummeted. But as most of us look to return to work, the need for a car is, happily, on the rise. Demand is expected to be felt the most in Wales and Yorkshire and the Humber, the two regions with the highest number of Brits expected to change their vehicle in the next 12 months (23% vs 22%). Growing families seem to be one of the biggest drivers behind the sale of new and used vehicles. More 34-44-year-olds are set to buy (22%) than any other age group and sales amongst married or civil partnered couples are also expected to be high at 21%. Two-children households again are driving more expected sales (26%) with families with children aged between five and 11 as the ones most likely to change cars (24%).
IN-CAR SMOKER? CHECK THE LAW BEFORE GOING ABROAD
- 19 April 2021
IN-CAR SMOKER? CHECK THE LAW BEFORE GOING ABROAD
We're all looking forward to being able to travel the world once again, but it's clear many of us are looking to stay as safe as possible while on a holiday or an international business trip. For some people, a rental car gives the opportunity to stay safe and also opens up plenty more opportunities to enjoy our holiday. But, if you're a cigarette smoker, knowing when you can spark up behind the wheel can get confusing. Some countries have a blanket, no smoking law. For example, in Argentina, it is illegal to smoke and drive, as well as listening to music through headphones and using a mobile phone. However, other countries have more complicated laws. Singapore's driving laws dictate that whilst smoking is allowed in private vehicles, no secondhand tobacco smoke can be expelled. So, make sure all your windows are closed and there's no other passengers, before smoking, if you want to avoid a brush with the law. Some countries have very different laws compared to their neighbours. For example, France has banned smoking in a car with anyone under the age of 12, however, next door in Spain, you can spark up behind the wheel at any moment! The same can be said for driving through Poland into Czech Republic, as Polish law dictates that drivers cannot smoke in cars carrying passengers. However, over the border in the Czech Republic, you can smoke at any point whilst driving. So, if you're planning a road trip in the future, being aware of the driving laws is important. You need to be extra careful when driving in Italy, as they are the only country that dictates in their law that you cannot smoke when carrying a pregnant passenger. In Cyprus, the ban on smoking in cars applies when people under the age of 16 are travelling in the vehicle. The age limit is much higher in New Zealand, in comparison to Cyprus, as in June 2020, the country banned smoking in any vehicle carrying a person under 18 years old. These aren't the only countries that restrict smoking when carrying passengers under 18. Luxembourg, South Africa and Greece all have smoking bans when driving with a passenger under the age of 12. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria and Malta have a much higher age restriction. If any of your passengers are under the age of 18, it is against the law to smoke in the car. In some countries, it's a fineable offence to consume anything behind the wheel. In France, motorists can expect a fine of up to 50 euros if they're caught eating, drinking or smoking whilst operating a vehicle. In Cyprus you can face a penalty of up to 85 euros if you're found smoking in a car that's carrying a passenger under the age of 16. Malta, Ireland, and the UK all have similar penalties if you're found to be smoking in a car with an underage passenger.
CHECK YOUR HIRE CAR FOR DAMAGE - OR PAY AFTERWARDS
- 19 April 2021
CHECK YOUR HIRE CAR FOR DAMAGE - OR PAY AFTERWARDS
As the prospects for foreign travel begin to open up again, this week there's a warning that travellers could be giving car hire companies an open goal if they do not thoroughly check a hire car over for damage when they pick it up. This is according to a new survey of over 1,000 car hirers, by Opinium for iCarhireinsurance.com. This found that over one in seven (16%) found damage on a hire car that was not highlighted on the checkout sheet when they collected the car; and 8% had been accused of damage they did not do. Over half (55%) of car hirers always check their hire car for damage, before driving off for the first time, although this figures drops to a third (32%) who also remember to check the condition of the wheels and tyres, which can be damage hotspots. Only a third (34%) take pictures of the car to prove any existing damage. 14% said a rental company representative told them that it was not necessary to note down minor damage on the check-out sheet when collecting the vehicle. The survey also found that almost a fifth (19%) of car hirers worried during their holiday about scratching or damaging the car, with 16% saying they were concerned that the rental company would try to charge them for damage they had not done after the rental. At the end of the hire, one in six (17%) returned the hire car without it being checked for damage, with 16% saying no staff were available. Over a quarter (27%) of car hirers took photographs at the end of the hire to record the hire car's condition. iCarhireinsurance.com's free travel app (called iCarhire), which is available to all consumers, has a 'snaps' feature to take date and time stamped photographs. Ernesto Suarez, founder and CEO of iCarhireinsurance.com, said: "Checking a hire car over for damage when you pick it up is often the last thing you want to do after a long journey, but as this survey shows it's extremely important to ensure that you're not charged for damage on the car that you didn't cause. Photographic evidence is also crucial for both the start and end of the rental period. It adds a little time to your journey but is worth it for quickly resolving any damage disputes."
CAR INSURANCE COSTS FALL SHARPLY
- 19 April 2021
CAR INSURANCE COSTS FALL SHARPLY
The average annual car insurance premium has fallen by £55 from the previous quarter, according to the latest Premium Drivers report from comparethemarket. This is the steepest fall in premiums over a three-month period since this research began in 2012. The average premium in Q1 2021 (December 2020 - February 2021) has dropped to just £652. This represents the lowest quarterly average for car insurance premiums since Q3 2015, when a typical premium cost £606. Premiums have also declined by an average of £103 year-on-year, as the pandemic has caused a sharp drop in the cost of insurance. This also represents the largest 12-month decline on record. There is usually a seasonal drop in the cost of car insurance in the first few months of the year, but this trend has been significantly accelerated by the pandemic in Q1 2021. During the past year, the Government's travel restrictions have resulted in fewer cars on the road, which in turn has led to a 19% decline in car insurance claims (according to the Association of British Insurers). Insurers seem to have passed on some of these savings to motorists through lower premiums. The cheapest premium typically available in Q1 2021 has also tumbled by £68 year-on-year. It now stands at £560, falling from £603 in Q4 2020. This drop means there are still significant savings available to drivers who shop around for the best deal when their policy comes to an end. Motorists can save an average of £92 by switching to the cheapest premium available. A drop in the number of inexperienced drivers on the road may also have contributed to the decline in car insurance claims and subsequent fall in premiums. The latest figures from the DVLA show a 48% drop in the number of people passing their practical driving test in 2020, compared with the previous year, as the pandemic prevented or discouraged many people from learning to drive.
THE UK IS A PRICEY PLACE TO CHARGE YOUR EV
- 19 April 2021
THE UK IS A PRICEY PLACE TO CHARGE YOUR EV
While we saw car sales slump in 2020, electric cars grew in popularity. Electric sales made up 4.7% of all new private cars licensed in 2020 in the Republic of Ireland, up from just 3% in 2019. Across Europe, it's a similar story. Electric cars made up 10.5% of new private licensed cars in EU countries in 2020 an increase from just 3% in 2019. So while electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular with drivers across the EU, the price we all pay to purchase, run and get car insurance for them varies drastically depending on where you live. The UK is the 7th most expensive place in Europe to publically charge your EV. UK consumers pay £9.27 (373%) more per charge than consumers in the Ukraine (the cheapest place to charge in Europe, along with Kosovo and Serbia. Still, at least it's cheaper to charge up an EV in the UK than it is in Germany (which, along with Denmark and Belgium, is the priciest place to charge an EV in Europe, with charges costing £4.49 more than in the UK. The average cost to charge an EV in Europe is £8.65 - £3.07 less than in the UK.
VAN DRIVERS NOT SO KEEN ON A BREW
- 12 April 2021
VAN DRIVERS NOT SO KEEN ON A BREW
"Milk and two sugars" has been replaced by "Cappuccino with oat milk", according to a new study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles into the drinking habits of van drivers*. The results reveal the era of the traditional builder's tea is over with tradesmen and women across the UK favouring coffee over a basic brew for their caffeine hit while on the job. A cappuccino tops the list of favourite hot drinks ahead of a latte. The humble English breakfast tea ranks third, ahead of hot chocolate, an Americano, and a flat white. Van drivers aren't just becoming more discerning with their choice of tea or coffee, either, with almost one in five opting for an alternative milk, such as oat, almond, soy or coconut. And when they do go with regular milk, health-conscious van drivers prefer semi-skimmed to full fat. Van driver's top hot drinks 1. Cappuccino: 18% 2. Latte: 16% 3. English breakfast tea: 13% 4. Hot chocolate: 12% 5. Americano: 11% 6. Flat white: 10% 7. Espresso: 9% 8. Mocha: 5% 9. Other tea: 2% It's thirsty work out on the job, too, with almost a third buying multiple hot drinks in a day, while only one in 10 don't buy any at all. The van drivers who spend most on hot drinks during work are in London, with an average seven per week, compared to Welsh van drivers who purchase just three per week.
MOTORISTS PUT MOTS ON HOLD
- 12 April 2021
MOTORISTS PUT MOTS ON HOLD
Data released by Kwik Fit, the country's largest MOT tester, reveals that the number of drivers missing their MOT expiry date by more than three weeks tripled in the last six months, compared to the equivalent period the previous year. One in eleven drivers (9%) booking their MOT test in the last half year only did so three or more weeks after their current MOT had run out. This compares with a figure of just 3% in the whole of 2019. These drivers are in danger of incurring the wrath of their fellow motorists. Research for Kwik Fit has found that 26% of car owners think the authorities should have the powers to impound a car if it is being driven without a valid MOT. This figure rises to more than a third (35%) of people in Yorkshire and the Humber. 14% of UK motorists think that those stopped in a car with an expired MOT should face a driving ban of at least six months, while 12% think that the courts should be able to impose fines of up to £2000. The government introduced six month MOT extensions in the early stages of the first lockdown and this shifted the pattern of when many cars' MOTs become due. However, not only has this changed the time of year when drivers need to get their car MOTed, there has also been a significant change in when drivers book their MOTs in relation to their expiry date. As well as the number of drivers taking much longer to get their MOT carried out, and driving illegally as a result, there has been a similar increase in the number of drivers planning ahead. Kwik Fit has seen the number of drivers booking their test five or more weeks in advance of their expiry date also triple.
STAY SAFE ON YOUR BIKE
- 12 April 2021
STAY SAFE ON YOUR BIKE
Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is keen to reduce motorcycle casualties as the new riding season gains momentum. Central to this, according to GEM, should be a focus for riders on boosting their skill and knowing their limits. At the same time GEM is urging other road users to improve their observation in an attempt to reduce the number of motorcycle collisions. There were 336 motorcycle fatalities in 20191 (the latest available statistics), a five per cent fall on the previous year, but still accounting for 19 per cent of all road deaths. Motorcyclists make up less than three per cent of vehicles on the UK's roads, so the disproportionately high figure shows how risky motorcycling can be. Follow GEM's five simple 'lifesaver' safety tips and reduce the risk of being involved in a collision: If you've had your bike in the garage for the winter, ensure it's serviced, tax, insured and road legal before you take it out. Use the start of the riding season to invest in a refresher day with a training professional. Search online for motorcycle training days or consult your local club or advanced motorcyclists' group. Ensure self-preservation is your priority. The predominant cause of motorcycle crashes is the failure of car drivers to detect and recognise motorcycles in traffic. So wear high visibility clothing on all journeys, and ride in a way that gives others a better chance of seeing you. Don't ride beyond your comfort zone, especially if you're riding in a group. If your friends are cornering too quickly for you, let them go and join them at the next junction. Try not to dwell on your errors as go along. Plan well ahead, anticipate the next hazards. When you stop for a break, reflect on anything that didn't go to plan, ask what you have learnt and how you can reduce the chance of the same thing happening again.
POLL RECKONS 'SMART' MOTORWAYS AREN'T SMART
- 12 April 2021
POLL RECKONS SMART MOTORWAYS ARENT SMART
A new web poll on smart motorways from the UK's largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that the majority of respondents (85 per cent) want a halt on their construction until the safety case is fully proven. Furthermore, 84 per cent of the 4,500 respondents surveyed had little faith in the current safety systems' abilities to detect them if they were to breakdown in a running lane and protect them until help arrived. Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research, said: "Our members include many high mileage, experienced and confident motorway users but the results of this survey are clear to see, with the vast majority having very little, or no confidence, in the safety of smart motorways. "We would urge the Department for Transport and Highways England to listen to what smart motorway users are saying and to consider our findings, along with other in-depth research, to determine the best approach to developing the smart motorway network. Delaying decisions on smart motorways will only lead to more drivers getting stressed. Meanwhile, other hard-hitting results from the IAM RoadSmart study found that 81 per cent of motorists felt less safe travelling on a smart motorway compared to a normal one, and 81 per cent agreed that hard shoulders should be immediately reinstated on smart motorways. More than 80 per cent also wanted safety refuges on smart motorways to be spaced at 500 metres apart or less. Finally, 40 per cent of drivers found no noticeable improvement in their journey time, with only 4 per cent finding a very noticeable improvement compared to 6 per cent who actually found it worse than before.
MINT AFRICAN MORRIS MINOR 70 YEARS YOUNG
- 12 April 2021
MINT AFRICAN MORRIS MINOR 70 YEARS YOUNG
Looking almost as fresh as the day it was born, Morris Minor registration 'YSY 530' appears to have lived a sheltered life, yet is so well travelled it arguably deserves to star in its own movie! Fresh adventures now await this venerable classic, as it's due to go under the hammer at Hampson Auctions' sale, Thornton Manor, Wirral on April 28. It was acquired by the vendor, Mr James Davies, from a private owner in Rhodesia in 1954 where, aside of a memorable 2,500 miles trip to and from Umtata, South Africa, it was primarily used for journeys on the local roads around Salisbury, whose primitive strips of tarmac were far better suited to trucks than the relatively narrow track of the Morris. Come 1960, when James moved to the UK to further his education, the mighty Minor was sold to an elderly lady. Imagine his surprise then, on returning to Rhodesia three years later, to find the car being advertised in a local paper for c.£200. Back in the family fold once again, it then experienced seven years in Zambia. This was followed by a six-year spell in South Africa, the journey to which via Salisbury is one of many the Davies family are unlikely to forget. Initially husband and wife convoyed in separate cars, with James in the Minor accompanied by no less than four spaniels. But they became separated and, on nearing the Zambesi, the Morris's fuel tank sprung a leak. The 1,820-mile trek by road and rail was ultimately only completed by plugging the hole with soft soap (a proven 'get you home' repair) and topping up with fuel at each of the heavily spaced petrol stations. Mrs Davies recalls her relief at hearing the Minor finally steaming up the Zambesi escarpment to the hotel at the top, where she had waited, desperate for news of her husband, dogs and car. Following its stint in South Africa, where the Morris had served as a school taxi for the couple's two boys, it and the rest of the family's worldly goods were shoe-horned into a 20ft shipping container en route to a fresh start back in the UK. Despite its international adventures, this stunningly original, rust-free 1951 Morris Minor MM has still only clocked 62,900 miles from new, and is now being sold by Mr Davies for the second and, doubtless emotional, last time in 67 years. The car carries a pre-sale estimate of £7,000-£8,000.
DRIVERS STILL FEAR AUTOMATED VEHICLE TECH
- 08 April 2021
DRIVERS STILL FEAR AUTOMATED VEHICLE TECH
A study from the UK's largest independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has revealed that 60 per cent of motorists consider the growing ability of vehicles to drive themselves as a serious threat to road safety. While female drivers (66 per cent) and drivers over the age of 70 (64 per cent) had even higher concerns. This is despite well-documented evidence that most road incidents are actually caused by human error, suggesting that giving greater control to the vehicles themselves in the future might actually reduce the number of collisions. However, while automated vehicle technology could have the power to improve road safety, this will only happen if the new systems are used correctly, including through driver training to understand their capabilities and limitations, believes the road safety charity. According to government projections, 40 per cent of UK new car sales could have self-driving capabilities in less than 15 years. Meanwhile, advocates for a push towards autonomous vehicle technology also highlight the financial benefits to the UK economy, possibly almost worth £42 billion by 2035 together with the creation of nearly 40,000 British jobs. Concerns still remain however around the high cost of research and development, making autonomous vehicles too expensive for some, together with possible malfunctions, data security issues and moral dilemmas as to what the vehicle should be programmed to protect.