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Skoda revolution removes the bling

27 November 2012

Four years ago Skoda decided to “change its cars completely” in terms of design and technology.
 
Two years later, the Czech brand produced the Vision D concept at the Geneva Motor Show which according to Skoda design co-ordinator Peter Olah was “a bible of Skoda design”.  Speaking at the launch of the new Skoda Rapid, a model that sits below the Octavia, Olah says that Vision D demonstrated where all new Skodas would go, embracing “clever engineering with a human touch”.
 
According to Olah Skoda’s slogan of ‘simply clever’ is not just a marketing claim, it means trying to bring clever solutions and understandable technology to the cars.  “One of the best examples of this is the little hook in the trunk to hold your shopping – it costs almost nothing but really changes your life. This is what we call the human touch.”
 
This theme continues with the Rapid which includes such touches as a combined ice scraper and magnifier concealed inside the fuel filler cap.  Owners can remove snow and ice from the windows and around the door before getting into the car. And that means there will be snow falling onto the seats when the door is opened.
 
The first clues to Skoda’s new look arrived in the summer with the Citigo city car, boasting a new, bolder Skoda logo.  Rapid continues the theme. “We want to make our cars as clean as possible and get rid of unnecessary lines – customers have had enough of shiny, bling bling stuff,” Olah says.

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BMW’s roll-out of DAB radio as standard will .....

27 November 2012

...... prompt all carmakers to follow, says CAP

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One in three drivers fail legal vision requirement

27 November 2012

Research reveals one in three UK drivers is putting themself and other road users at risk by not meeting the legal vision standard for driving.
 
The statistic comes as a result of vision screenings carried out by Specsavers at county shows and town centres in the UK this year as part of the optician’s annual Drive Safe Roadshow.  A corresponding survey conducted at these shows revealed that drivers are unaware of their vision failings, as more than four out of five people with substandard vision claimed theirs was good enough to drive safely.
 
Paul Carroll, director of professional services at Specsavers, said: “In the UK, while drivers are asked to read a number plate at the time of their practical driving test, their vision is not then re-evaluated until the age of 70. Good vision is essential for drivers, ensuring they are safe and aware on the roads to help reduce the danger to themselves and other road users.”
 
The survey also found that two out of five people have not had their eyes tested within the recommended timeframe of once every two years. Only a quarter of specs-wearing drivers carry a spare pair of glasses in their car, even though more than two out of five of the participants need them.
 
Carroll concluded “As vision can change gradually over time - something many are unaware of - it is essential that drivers maintain a high level of vision with regular eye examinations. Any changes that do then occur can be more easily spotted in the controlled environment of an eye examination.”

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Honda unveils micro-sized electric vehicle

15 November 2012

Honda has unveiled the 'Micro Commuter Prototype', a micro-sized short distance EV commuter.
 
The vehicle was developed in light of the vehicle categories for micro-sized mobility products that are currently being discussed under the initiative of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in Japan, as well as for the regulations for the L7-category in Europe.  Using vehicles based on this prototype model, Honda will begin demonstration testing in Japan in 2013.  The demonstration testing will verify the potential of the vehicle in various uses including supporting everyday short-distance transportation for families with small children and for senior citizens, home delivery services, commuting and car sharing.
 
The Micro Commuter Concept that was first introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2011. This prototype model advances the concept in terms of cabin space. By changing the rear seat, it is possible to seat one driver and one adult passenger in the micro-sized body.  The adoption of the variable design platform positions components such as the battery, motor and control unit under the floor and in the rear space to concentrate the vehicle driving functions into a compact space.  This made it comparatively easier to develop and produce a body and interior that accommodates various uses and customers’ needs than existing vehicles.
 
Other features of this model include the use of a user-owned tablet device for the application of functions such as meter display, navigation, audio and back-up camera display, and the ability to charge the battery of the tablet using solar cells mounted on the vehicle roof.  Honda is continuing research of onboard solar cells to provide solar energy to assist the driving.
 
Through collaboration with the Honda Smart Home System (HSHS) that has already begun demonstration testing in the city of Saitama in Japan, Honda is planning to verify the CO2 reduction effect from the optimised energy management in everyday life and the values this vehicle can provide for customers when it is used not only as an electric vehicle but also as a household battery.

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Chancellor should abandon fuel duty increases

15 November 2012

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) hailed Monday’s Parliamentary debate as confirmation that fuel duty has now become a mainstream political issue, and welcomes the suggestion that the Chancellor George Osborne may be about to cancel the increase in fuel duty planned for New Year's Day.
 
The indication that the Treasury may defer the 3p per litre increase comes hot on the heels of face-to-face talks initiated by the FTA-backed FairFuelUK Campaign, when research was presented illustrating the impact of fuel duty on UK growth and the economy, adding pressure on the government to axe the fuel duty hike scheduled for January 1, 2013.
 
James Hookham, FTA’s managing director of policy and communications, said:”We have been able to get this issue to the heart of the political debate in Westminster and ensure the weight of public and business opinion is brought to bear on decisions about future tax rates.
 
“We hope and expect that George Osborne will not only cancel the increase, but will abandon any further rises before the next election, as it is clear that a precedent has been set and that similar debates and votes will take place ahead of all future planned increases.  The Chancellor may as well give up on fuel duty increases as a bad job.”

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