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New incentives needed for EV and hybrid

19 July 2012

Despite several financial incentives designed to encourage the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, there has been little take up so far, reports the Campaign for Better Transport.
With the Government committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050, the Campaign for Better Transport says electric and hybrid vehicles are one of the main planks of the Government’s carbon reduction strategy.  But a range of measures, including graduated Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), Plug-in Car Grants and graduated company car taxation rules have failed to have the desired effect.
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Our report suggests that now is the perfect time to consider a more radical approach and a ‘feebate’ system could work. 


EC proposes further CO2 reduction targets for cars

16 July 2012

The European Commission has put forward proposals to implement targets that will further reduce CO2 emissions from new cars and vans by 2020.
The proposals will cut average emissions from new cars to 95g/km in 2020 from 135.7g/km in 2011 and a mandatory target of 130g/km in 2015.  Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147g/km in 2020 from 181.4g/km in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) and a mandatory target of 175g/km in 2017.  The mandatory targets for 2020 are already envisaged in existing legislation but require implementation.  Following thorough technical and economic analysis by the Commission, the Regulations proposed establish the modalities by which the targets would be achieved.
Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action, said: ''With our proposals we are not only protecting the climate and saving consumers money. We are also boosting innovation and competitiveness in the European automotive industry. And we will create substantial numbers of jobs as a result. This is a clear win-win situation for everyone. This is one more important step towards a competitive, low-carbon economy. More CO2 reductions beyond 2020 need to be prepared and these will be considered in consultation with stakeholders."
These measures will lead to net savings for consumers, each new car will on average save its owner around €340 (£268) in fuel costs in the first year, and an estimated total of €2,904-€3,836 (£2,293-£3,029) over the car's lifetime (13 years), as compared with the 2015 target.  For vans the average fuel cost saving is estimated at around €400 (£315) in the first year and €3363-€4564 (£2,655-£3,604) over their 13-year lifetime.
Overall, consumers will save around €30bn per year in fuel costs and it is estimated that the targets could increase EU GDP by €12bn annually and spending on employment by some €9bn a year. The proposals would in total save 160 million tonnes of oil – worth around €70bn at today's prices - and around 420 million tonnes of CO2 in the period to 2030.
The proposals will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for discussion and adoption under the normal legislative procedure.  They would amend two existing Regulations establishing binding requirements for manufacturers to meet the 2015 mandatory target for cars and the 2017 target for vans.  Implementing measures for the Regulations are already in place and CO2 emissions from new vehicles are monitored annually.


Safety systems could drive down fleet accidents

11 July 2012

The use of driver safety aids by fleets could cut the number of accidents their vehicles are involved in, according to new research.
Safety systems such as forward collision warning and speed limiters were tested during a four-year, £18 million study called the European Field Operational Test (EuroFOT).  It is now recommending that fleets consider equipping new vehicles with such systems.
The issue is cost: to pack a car with safety aids such as lane departure, collision warning/braking and blind spot information costs anything from £1,000 to £2,000.  For a fleet of 100 vehicles, that equates to at least £100,000 – although tough negotiating with the manufacturer could bring the cost down.
EuroFOT tested 1,000 cars and trucks equipped with advanced driver assistance systems, cov-ering more than 21 million miles.  It focused on eight vehicle functions that help drivers in detecting hazards and avoiding accidents, including: adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, speed limiter, blind spot information system, lane departure warning and curve speed warning (which alerts drivers if they are approaching a bend at too high a speed).  The findings suggest that adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning could positively affect up to 5.7% of accidents on motorways.
Three-quarters of drivers involved in the test felt that curve speed warning increased safety; they found it most useful while driving on rural roads. It also enabled more defensive driving.
About 80% of drivers felt that blind spot systems increased safety, especially on urban roads and in heavy traffic.
The findings come in the wake of Government statistics which reveal that the number of people being killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads has risen for the first time in 17 years.  Road deaths increased by 3% – from 1,850 in 2010 to 1,901 last year – and serious injuries climbed 2% – from 22,660 to 23,122 in 2011.  That’s the equivalent of five people being killed and more than 60 seriously injured every day. With estimates suggesting that at-work drivers account for one-third of casualties, that equates to a weekly death rate of 12 employees who are driving for work, and nearly 150 seriously injured.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said: “It is unacceptable and shameful that after years of consistent casualty reductions, we are now seeing an increase in people dying and being maimed on our roads.”
Road deaths have been decreasing year-on-year by an average of 9% since 2004.  In 2010 they fell by 17%, so the figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) represent a dramatic break in the long-term trend.  As a result, Brake is calling on the Government to reinstate the national casualty reduction targets, which were abandoned last year.  It also wants to see more 20mph speed limits; graduated driver licensing; a lower drink-drive limit; and traffic policing prioritised.
However, in the past decade the reduction in road deaths has largely come from improved passive safety in new vehicles, such as airbags and crumple zones, according to the Road Safety Foundation.  The charity’s director, Dr Joanne Marden, said it was important to “get safety policies back on track.  For vehicles, it means continuing the introduction of safety features in four and five-star cars and accelerating the adoption of technologies such as electronic stability control and emergency brake assistance that help drivers avoid crashes,” she said.
But, while fleets could play their part by making some safety systems mandatory in company vehicles, it’s the Government that most experts are calling on to take action.
“Ministers should take this as a serious warning,” said the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) chief executive Simon Best.  “Cutting road safety education, scrapping casualty targets, and reductions in local authority spending all suggest that road safety isn’t a major priority for this Government.”


Vauxhall reveals the new Adam city car

11 July 2012

Vauxhall released the first official pictures of the new Adam, hoping to rival the Fiat 500 as part-car and part-fashion accessory.
Using upmarket materials the Adam is a three-door, four-seater that will be unveiled at this year’s Paris Motorshow, before appearing in UK showrooms early in 2013.  The Adam incorporates a ‘floating’ roof which is visually disconnected from the bodbut it also retains design signatures from other Vauxhalls, such as the line around the door handle (Astra GTC), the wing-shaped chrome grille bar (new Astra) and the blade shape in the lower doors.
The Adam offers a high level of personalisation options. Available in three trims from launch – Jam (fashionable/colourful), Glam (elegant/sophisticated) and Slam(racy/sporty), while there are almost unlimited visual combinations, with a wide variety of exterior colours – including two different roof colours - interior colours, equipment and materials. Customers can even choose their headlining, including an LED-lit starlight roof trim.


Wet weather highlights need for tyre checks

04 July 2012

With the UK suffering its wettest second quarter since records began in 1910, the need for adequate tyre tread to stay safe on wet roads all year round is more important than ever, says TyreSafe.
“Spring felt more like autumn this year with its unusually high rainfall, yet what it does show is that tyre tread depth should be checked regularly, whatever time of year, to make sure they can cope properly with wet roads.  And there is at least one silver lining to these continuous clouds and that’s the free advice from TyreSafe, which is urging drivers to inspect their tyres simply by using the 20p tread depth check. It’s easy to do and could pay dividends,” said Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe.
The test involves inserting a 20p piece into the main grooves of the tyre. If the outer band of the coin is visible, then the tyre tread may not have sufficient depth and should be inspected by a qualified specialist.  Adequate tread depth is essential for good grip on wet roads as the tread pattern helps to remove water from the road surface. Drivers with insufficient tread depth face longer stopping distances, reduced grip and an increased risk of aquaplaning.
When checking the tread, TyreSafe advises that drivers should also give their tyres a visual inspection for any cuts, lumps or bulges, while also making sure the air pressure is correct.  Tyre safety is about protecting the ones you love, as well as having respect for other road users. However, if that’s not enough to spur people into action and to regularly check their tyres all year round, then the heavy fines for driving with illegal tyres certainly is,” added Jackson.
Current UK law requires car drivers to have at least 1.6mm of tread across the central three-quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference.  Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

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