Archive for March, 2011
Unless you’re an obsessive EU-rophile, you’ve probably not noticed the recent publication of the ‘Transport 2050 Roadmap’, or to give it its catchier title – “Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – White Paper on a Sustainable and Competitive Transport.”
It really isn’t riveting stuff, I’m afraid, but it is something that petrolheads need to pay attention to, as this is the document that is proposing to ban gas-fuelled cars from all European cities by 2050.
Now before you shout me down as a luddite, I’m totally in favour of clean vehicles, whether electrically powered, or using fuel-cells. By then even low-temperature fusion may be a viable means of propulsion.
But a blanket ban would do a massive disservice to anyone who loves old cars.
In 1900 almost all city transport was horse-drawn. The worry at the time (because there is always an environmental catastrophe just around the corner), was that the volume of horses required to keep the cities flowing would lead to food shortages as the horses ate more and more of the crops produced and massive volumes of manure piling up daily would lead to London being buried under nine feet of horse poo.
This seems laughable now of course, because we know now that the nascent technology of internal combustion obviated the need for horse-drawn technology within a couple of decades, all without any need for legislation or coercion.
The same will be true of electric cars.
Right now they are expensive, high-maintenance beasts with limited range. Their sex-appeal is severely limited, because ‘fun’ driving wears down the batteries even further. And yet, in the next decade or two, the high price of oil will inevitably lead to a reduction in the number of petrol- and diesel-powered cars on our roads, particularly in the cities, where charging points will be plentiful, and journeys short. Of course, another technology may well outdo electric – in 1900 both steam and electric power looked equally likely to replace the horse as petrol.
But just as no-one has ever banned horses from our city centres, banning oil burning cars from cities will be an unnecessary piece of legislation, that will only succeed in frustrating future hobbyists and classic car enthusiasts. Already London makes exceptions to its Low Emission Zones to allow classic vehicle rallies to take place, and keep the tourist-friendly Routemaster buses on their ‘heritage’ routes.
Are the EU saying that children of the future will have to travel out to the depths of the countryside to see, hear and smell the vehicles their grandparents drove? Will you have to move out of the city if you want to own a classic car?
The EU’s aims in this are laudable – regardless of your view on global warming, cleaner air benefits everybody – but legislating the solution is counterproductive.
Their video is worth a quick view though, as the last few seconds have a Futurama-style (the GM one, rather than Matt Groening) transport hub of the future.
You can find out some interesting facts and figures on EU transport issues, or get the whole whitepaper, if that kind of thing floats your boat.
If you feel strongly about this, let your local MEP know. Other craziness includes letting the government pick the vehicles that commercial fleet buyers are allowed to buy.
Goodyear are coming for you and I’m not sure what they have planned…
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Range Rover have released a new video claiming that the design and feel of the new Evoque has, to some extent, been crowdsourced. How this squares with the fact that the whole thing was designed by Gerry McGovern, who refused to accept any compromise of the design even from Range Rover’s own engineers (as we posted on influx), we are left to imagine.
But perhaps that explains why some people see a lot of the Mini Countryman in the Evoque. Who knows?
What we do know is that Range Rover seem keen to pitch the Evoque at what would be, for them, an entirely new demographic, and are even planning to give away a snazzy iPad2 to folk who view this video and enter their details at the end.
You can get involved in the exercise at helloevoque.com, where you can view the journeys of celebrities such as George Lamb and Daisy Lowe, download smartphone apps to map your travels in a unique visualisation, and help OK Go create a video. Not a gentleman farmer in sight.
The European ban on using gender to rate insurance premiums is bad news for younger female drivers, with rises of up to 50 per cent for some car insurance policies widely expected.
A 2004 EU directive allowing insurers to use gender to rate premiums if they were backed by statistical evidence was successfully challenged last year, leading to this week’s decision to scrap the exemption.
That statistical evidence certainly exists, with young men twice as likely to claim on their insurance policy than young women, while they are 10 times more likely to have a road accident involving serious injury, which is where the most costly claims occur.
But the courts have decided that equality cuts both ways, and from December 21 next year, gender cannot be used as a risk factor.
It takes away one of the fundamental principles of insurance, and there have to be fears that there will be more challenges in the future based on other discriminatory risk factors, such as age.
With gender stripped out, it’s likely that premiums for female drivers will increase to match those of male drivers, which won’t drop because of the difficulties most insurers are having making money on men.
Some, if not most, insurers will look at ways of discounting which will catch as many women as possible by using proxies such as occupations.
It means the odd male secretary or nursery assistant will end up with cheap insurance but, as 95 per cent of these positions are filled by women, then insurers can continue to attract female customers and can prove that they’re not rating based on gender.
The big losers will be those women working in traditionally male-dominated occupations, or where the gender/occupation split is 50/50.
There are, of course, ways of reducing insurance premiums, some more hi-tech than others.
The most obvious involve the basics, like getting a PassPlus or Institute of Advanced Motoring qualification, keeping your car garaged if you can and installing the best alarm system you can afford.
Members of owners clubs can get discounts of up to 15 per cent on some schemes, while limiting the mileage to a few thousand miles a year will also reduce the premium.
More and more fleets are now using telematic devices that measure the mileage, but also the driving styles, such as braking, accelerating and speed, in real time.
This benefits the fleet managers in terms of improving efficiency and reducing accidents, which in turn often leads to discounts on fleet insurance.
There have been “black box” insurance schemes on private cars for some time, but some of them place heavy restrictions, such as curfews, on drivers, and have therefore had limited appeal.
However, with the way premiums have increased in recent years for young drivers, these devices are likely to be seen more and more.
They are unlikely to be compulsory for some time yet, but we may reach the point that most young drivers have them because it will be so much cheaper in the long run.
Using the technology, good drivers can be rewarded with things like extra mileage allowances or larger discounts.
Your choice of car will also play a major part, so we’ve put together this list of the top 10 insurance friendly cars for young drivers:
Volkswagen Beetle (old shape, up to 1600cc)
Peugeot 107 1.0
Vauxhall Corsa 1000cc
Peugeot 106 1000cc
Fiat Panda 1000cc
Austin Mini 1000cc
Fiat Uno 1000cc
Peugeot 205 950cc
Renault 5 1000cc
Citroen 2CV 602cc