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Government launches hydrogen project

18 January 2012

International companies from the utility, gas, infrastructure and car manufacturing sectors are joining with the Government to launch a joint project to look at the potential for hydrogen transport to deliver economic and carbon reduction benefits in this country.
 
UK H2Mobility will look at what’s needed to make the UK a serious global player in the manufacturing and use of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles before developing an action plan for an anticipated roll-out to consumers in 2014/15.  The project will be launched in London today (January 18) and Vauxhall will be unveiling its 4th generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicle HydroGen4.  Vauxhall says that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles combine the advantages of electric propulsion, with the convenience of fast fuelling and long range, thereby playing an important role in its alternative propulsion portfolio.
 
GM/Vauxhall have been investing in research and development of hydrogen fuel cell technologies for over a decade. Supported by an extensive test fleet in Europe and the US with over 100 fuel cell vehicles logging around 2 million miles since 2008, Vauxhall expects the technology to be ready for market introduction by 2016.  Bill Parfitt, Vauxhall Motors’ director for Government Affairs and Public Policy, said: “Following our company’s unrelenting focus on hydrogen fuel cell technology development, the launch and successful roll-out of these vehicles will now depend on the availability of hydrogen to the consumer in a real life environment.  We therefore greatly appreciate this very timely initiative, gathering various stakeholders, under government lead, to establish an adequate strategy for future hydrogen development in the UK.”
 
Project infrastructure spokesman Kevin Michaelis, who is regional vice president of Liquid Bulk/Generated Gases–Europe, Air Products, said: “This project brings together the leading hydrogen infrastructure providers, at the forefront of deployment worldwide, with the common goal of supporting the rollout of hydrogen transport across the United Kingdom.  The hydrogen infrastructure sector has been working over a number of years to develop hydrogen transport in the UK. We are very pleased that the progress made is being recognised by the Government in this groundbreaking initiative that will shift the focus from R&D to deployment of hydrogen infrastructure.  Working together with Government and leading car manufacturers we can support the creation of a hydrogen transport infrastructure that will dramatically cut harmful vehicle emissions and move the UK towards a zero carbon transport system.”

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VW Up! Wins top What Car? title

17 January 2012

Volkswagen's new Up! city car has been named What Car? Car of the Year 2012. The new BMW 3 series was declared the best executive car, and the Audi A1 was named best supermini. Kia was recognised for the low fuel consumption of its vehicles.

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Low Emission Zone changes kick-in

12 January 2012

As of January 3rd all light commercials older than 10 years (pre-Euro 3) with a kerb weight greater than 1,205kg are no longer welcome in London; unless the operator pays a £100 daily charge. Failure to comply results in a £400/day fine. In essence the changes to the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) encompass all vans — bar those that are car-derived — pick-ups, 4x4 utility vehicles and minibuses with more than eight seats. Full details of which vehicles fall foul of the new emissions remit can be found here.

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Diesel price 'to hit record high'

12 January 2012

Fleets could be facing record diesel prices after the steepest and fastest ever rise in wholesale costs over the festive period, according to RMI Petrol.
 
From Monday December 19 to Thursday January 5 the cost of diesel increased by nearly 4.50ppl and unleaded petrol by as much as 5ppl with 20% VAT to be added.  RMI Petrol fear that average UK prices for diesel, currently close to 141ppl, will soon push past the May 9 peak of 143ppl and hit new record levels - perhaps even breaching 145ppl in the next few weeks.  These increases have been so rapid that fuel retailers have had scant time to react over the holidays and few have made any significant increase yet to their pump prices, says RMI Petrol.
 
However, from this weekend prices will have to move upwards quickly in order to protect the already wafer thin margins which have caused the independent retailers such financial stress through 2011.  Movements in sterling were not significant against the US dollar over the holiday period but the following market drivers have caused prices to suddenly shoot up:

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Time to follow French lead on road safety?

12 January 2012

France’s commitment to reducing the numbers of deaths on its roads has been applauded by a leading UK road safety expert, who says the UK could learn lessons from the French by having clear targets and high profile initiatives.
 
Graham Hurdle, managing director of Chichester-based fleet risk management specialists E-Training World, believes the UK Government has lost its way with road safety; scrapping targets, reducing the money available, and burying it at the bottom of the political agenda.
 
From spring this year, motorists in France will need to carry disposable breathalysers – this is in a bid to reduce the annual number of road fatalities to below 3,000.  France has made huge gains in road safety over the last ten years, with the number of deaths being cut by half.
 
“In our country the Government has scrapped its road death targets which is a move I wholeheartedly disagree with” said Hurdle. “And whilst I have some reservations about how successful the French breathalyser scheme will be, at least it demonstrates to drivers in France that road safety is being taken very seriously.”
 
French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced the measure to allow drivers to check they are under the legal drink-drive limit, as part of a road safety drive.  It will be made compulsory by law from this spring, along with existing rules meaning drivers must carry a warning triangle and display stickers showing which country their vehicle is from. Drivers caught without a breathalyser in their car will face a €17 fine.
 
“I believe the drivers who use the kits to check if they are over the limit would not drink and drive anyway,” continued Hurdle, “although it might act as a deterrent to those who believe they are borderline and find they are over the limit.  But the drivers who willingly flout the law and drive while drunk will not be put off by the breathalyser, nor do I believe they will use it. I also have some serious concerns that it may encourage people to try and drink up to the limit and then drive which is a very negative aspect of this approach.  However the good news is it will remind all drivers in France of the dangers of drinking and driving which is more than the UK government is doing.”
 
Hurdle concluded: “There was no major drink driving campaign this Christmas in the UK and in many areas drink driving arrests increased in December 2011 compared to 2010.”

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