Archive | January, 2013

The Benefits Of Business Fleet Management

Company cars and commercial vehicles are essential to the running of most businesses, large and small. Fortunately for industry there are specialist companies able to provide business fleet management.Managing a fleet effectively requires a range of services to minimise the risks associated with vehicle investment and, crucially, save money in these difficult financial times.

The best fleet management companies include services as diverse as financing, maintenance, health and safety and, additionally, speed, fuel and driver management amongst many other aspects. This improves efficient and productivity whilst reducing overall costs and ensuring compliance with regulations.

There are various options to the leasing process to suit individual needs. There’s simple contract hire where the vehicles are simply rented or contract purchase offers fixed monthly payments which allow you to manage your fleet expenses whilst offering the chance to purchase the vehicle at the end of the contract by making a single ‘balloon’ payment. There are also leasing agreements and even the option to sell your existing fleet and rent them back from the company. This is a possible solution to cash flow worries.

Many companies today are choosing green solutions and fleet management can help. Whether your needs are for long distance saloons like the Jaguar XF , light commercial vehicles or even electric vehicles, help is at hand. Present rates of CO² taxation and Benefit In Kind legislation ensure that environmental issues cannot be ignored. By utilising the long experience and best practice of business fleet management it is possible to ensure the best green solutions.

It cannot be stressed enough the value of these essential fleet management services, leaving managers clear to concentrate on the core business needs. By leaving day to day fleet activities to the experts means no longer having to worry about breakdowns, servicing and general maintenance like tyres and glass; whilst fleet administration takes over the stewardship of motoring violations ensuring prompt action to reduce penalties and dealing with road tax, V5s, MOTs and parking permits. In short, everything is covered. One less big thing to worry about.

The number of fleet units deployed on company and commercial fleets throughout Europe is growing exponentially as managers realise the value of not having to run a dedicated department. Fleet management is the first and principal step to understanding automotive costs, financing and vehicle selection. The sensible move is to let fleet industry experts take the strain – that means peace of mind in the long run.

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Jaguar F-Type almost here for its spring 2013 launch

Jaguar have a released a new model of car that is set to excite fans of the brand and motoring world alike. The hard top coupe announced by Jaguar in 2011 is due for release in 2013 and early on has already draw comparisons similar to the legendary E-Type Jaguar. Enthusiasts will notice a similar look and feel to the F-Type of its predecessor that has only lead to anticipation growing. But will it live up to the already daunting expectation?

The Jaguar F-Type is entering a market dominated by the Porsche Boxster, but with looks that can only be described to turn heads a competition may be on hand. Fanatics may be dissatisfied a hard-top coupe version won’t be available until possibly another year. The modern body and eagle eyed head lights give the Jaguar a lean and aggressive look that will suit its sporting performances.

The performance is meant to rival the Porsche Boxster with two engine sizes available. The options of a 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol unit and a 5.0-litre V8 both are stating an impressive 0-60mph in less than 5 seconds. Jaguar claimed to have focused on the weight distribution which increases the acceleration as a result of. The lighter body also leads to the F-Type performing well on the economic front, the V6 model boasting a return of 30mpg plus, with the V6 Porsche Boxster proclaiming only 20-29 mpg.

Jaguar allows customers to add extras to the convertible with the possibility of the price escalating to £92,000. When this is due for launch both a standard and ‘S’ specification will be available. Jaguar’s standard multimedia system is included along with sporting leather seats and a luxury interior that is the very least expected with the franchise.

A quote from Jaguars Vehicle Line Director, Ian Hoban stated: “The engineering development of the F-Type has focused on delivering a heightened level of dynamic driving reward. We are excited about our progress to date and are looking forward to soon being able to demonstrate what we have achieved.” A statement that will be backed up by the Jaguar F-Type when it is released in spring 2013 at selected dealerships.

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Pothole Crisis Continues

Recent news has reported the planned second stage of the high-speed rail link to and from the North of England and the South. The cost is estimated to be in the order of £36 billion.

You just know, don’t you, that this figure will prove to be wildly optimistic – because they always are to make the deal more appealing – when the true amount will no doubt be very considerably more.

Still, it is not for us to debate the rights and wrongs of this here except to point out that Britain’s motorists will be justified in feeling a tad aggrieved when they are driving on roads not fit for purpose. The misery of roads that we, the tax paying car owners, have paid for over and over again goes on.

The blame is being placed in part on the way potholes are repaired. There has probably never been as good a use of the word ‘short-termism’ than when it is applied to pothole repairs. For years now those responsible have relied on cheap, brittle and porous Stone Mastic Asphalt rather than doing the job properly with hardwearing Hot Rolled Asphalt.

So, although the former is the cheaper option, the fact that the repair has be done over and over again means that the long-term cost probably isn’t much different. This penny-pinching gross underinvestment has left the UK with a backlog of pothole repairs and it is hard to see how this can be rectified without a major roads programme, which of course brings us full circle because it will probably never happen.

Government cuts will continue to leave councils short of the readies as they try to allegedly balance the books. In the meantime the potholes get deeper and more serious as time goes on. It is not as if this applies only to quieter B roads; the problem is becoming increasingly widespread on major routes and every time the work gangs turn up, traffic is slowed or even gridlocked whilst the repairs are carried out.

Our recent weather patterns haven’t helped with snow and heavy rain getting into the cracks and crevices of sloppily repaired road surfaces; freezing, thawing and lifting the surface. The only solution is to do the job properly once and for all which is what all of Britain’s drivers want as it will save them having to put in claims for damage to councils who could be spending the money on road repairs – and so it goes on. £36 billion ought to do it.

Never mind, if it becomes impossible to use the roads we’ve always got the railways to fall back on, especially as we’ll have the new high-speed line in a couple of decades time. You can use these trains instead – assuming you can afford the tickets.

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Save Petrol By Changing Your Driving Style

There are many ways to be economical and save petrol. Most manufacturers will tell you to purchase their latest model that has clever technology to improve the fuel consumption but what else can you do?

Other advice may come in the form of expensive modification for your existing vehicle that will only improve the consumption by 1 or 2 miles per gallon. The best way to improve your fuel consumption is very simple and will not require you to modify your car or force you to buy a new model that has greener credentials. It simply requires you to change your driving style. If you are a commercial driver, why not sign up to CPC driver training courses and start saving your company money at the pumps?

Bad habits

The majority of drivers tend to keep their foot on the accelerator right up until it is time to brake. Then straight back on the throttle once the manoeuvre that required braking is complete. Both acceleration and braking use fuel and the more aggressively you use the pedals the less fuel efficient the vehicle will be.

The best way to be more environmentally friendly is to adopt a more relaxed driving style. By slowing down gradually, for example at traffic lights, instead of remaining on the throttle until it is time to brake. Simply release the throttle and allow the vehicle to stop gradually until you finally have to brake to come to a complete stop.

The same applies for driving down steep hills. Instead of using the accelerator at all, simply pick up speed naturally on the banked road and use the brakes sparingly to avoid your velocity from becoming unsafe.

Constant speed

Maintaining a constant speed on the highways and motorways is also a good way to reduce the amount of petrol being used. In high gear, the accelerator should only need to be pressed approximately half to three quarters of the way to the floor to achieve the national speed limit depending on the vehicle you drive.

Some drivers will use their brakes when they are exceeding the limit and then accelerate again to build back up to the desired speed. However by releasing the accelerator and gradually losing speed when it looks likely that you will overrun the limit, your driving will be more environmentally friendly.

By constantly applying small adjustments to the throttle, your speed will maintained where you want it and there will be no need to use the brakes and burn more fuel than necessary. Combine these practices with the skills learnt on training courses and you’ll soon reap the benefits.

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The Cheap End Of The Market

It has been written, at least once, that man cannot live by a small collection of treasured boxed sets alone; sometimes you have to watch some old tripe on TV. So it is with cars. Life has its highs and lows. Sometimes you can afford some decent wheels and sometimes you have to scratch around at the bargain basement end of the car market for something that moves.

If you find yourself in that position, what can you buy for under £750 that won’t insult your intelligence or destroy your credibility, like, for ever? Immediately you will be saying: “Yeah, yeah, Citroen Saxo, Peugeot 205, blah, blah…”, but you will be wrong. There are, in fact, cars out there that are decent drivers yet can still be found for at or below that magic number.

Remember, galvanising has been around for a while now so rust isn’t the killer it once was so a reasonably well cared for used car could still do you a favour. Rust was once the scourge of older cars as any former Alfa Romeo owner will tell you between sobs; which brings us neatly and conveniently onto the first offering, the Alfa 156.

Alfa’s have a bit of a reputation for breaking down. This might be a little bit true to be frank, but that shouldn’t put you off. Life is all about positive thinking. The 156 is a good looking car and there are a fair few out there. A found example is a 2001 blue 1.7L Lusso model with MOT, 73,000 miles and full leather for just £650. If it does you for a year at that money it is still a bargain.

They (just exactly who are they?) say that the Japanese were responsible for bringing cars to our shores that had an accessory called reliability and so it has proved. So if you’d like to go back to the ‘90s for something that looks a bit sporty then why not try the Mazda MX3 2+2 coupé ? This is a car that was generally under-rated by the public but loved by its owners. At the time of writing there was a lovely clean 1998(R) model with the slightly under-powered 1.6L motor for £695. There’s a V6 (pictured) as well but watch out for foreign imports being sold as British registered cars.

For a big family, the cash-strapped buyer could do worse than the SEAT Alhambra. The found example is a ‘99(T) in good condition and with a year’s MOT – which means it has just been checked over to pass current regulations – for a penny-pinching £650.

Let’s be clear. Older cars will be less fuel efficient and some will have hidden problems but that doesn’t make them all bad. Many owners care for their cars in later life. Shopping around will eventually turn up a motor  that has a long or new test certificate and a nice clean body – including the underside. Do the usual tests. You want a clean start and no peculiar noises or vibrations at the kerb or out on the road. Take one or more knowledgeable friends if you’re unsure and hang onto that cash until the right car comes along. Lack of funds need not mean lack of wheels.

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Can Motoring Surveys Be Trusted?

There’s an old saying that might be attributed to the writer Mark Twain, that says: ‘There are lies, damn lies and statistics’. This is the problem with stats born out of surveys. Surveys purport to give a public cross-section of opinion about any given subject; but this, of course, depends upon who you ask. Go to an urban area and ask about road safety, you’ll get one answer. In rural areas you may well get an opposing view.

Road safety zealots, for example, will always paint the blackest picture about motoring. In some of Britain’s major cities 20mph limits have been in place for some time and a survey suggests that some 60% of us support this; although women, younger people and pensioners seem to predominate. So why is that official DfT figures issued in the Autumn of last year indicate a 24% rise in road casualties in 20mph limit areas in 2011 over the previous year? There was an equivalent drop of 1% in 30mph zones.

The reason is unclear. Perhaps vulnerable pedestrians or cyclists become complacent or maybe some drivers are ignoring the limit because often speed limits are poorly thought through and make no real sense, guided as they are by ‘surveys’. Certainly, 20mph zones have their place. By and large with our graded scale of speed limits we’ve pretty much got it right in the UK (although there’s a good case for 80mph on motorways); but these limits need to be based on real road safety needs and real ‘statistics’ such as the DfT figures, rather than the opinions of what may be biased or skewed surveys.

Meanwhile back in the world of motoring, very little seems to be being done about the use of mobile devices whilst driving. A survey has found that one quarter of those questioned admitted to texting whilst driving. This is another worry about surveys. Although they are anonymous how many people really tell the truth? Why would anyone voluntarily admit to breaking the law? Nevertheless, it appears that those most guilty of committing transgressions at the wheel are those who drive professionally.

17% of people on their way to work admit to doing some personal grooming. Professional or work related drivers are more likely to use a mobile phone or a ‘hands-free – whilst motoring and 76% admit to speeding at more than 35mph in a 30 limit and speeding in general. The point is that these percentages are based on surveys and not gathered facts. Thus it is that a survey that provides what purport to be accurate statistics may not necessarily be accurate yet it has a profound effect on those that run insurance companies who treat them as gospel, for example. We all pay for that.

It is right and proper that we have laws and speed limits otherwise there would be carnage on the roads; but let’s at least ensure they are based on facts and not limited range vox pops.

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Don’t Forget The Old Technology

We live in a techno age. That which would have been thought of as science fiction not so long ago has now become the norm. Almost daily some new miracle gadget is announced that changes our lives in ways that belies their size. This is especially true of cars. The technology that now appears on the average motor makes even cars from the 1990’s look fit only for the museum. Yet, despite all these advances, it seems that more and more drivers are forgetting one of the original and best features of their car. The indicators.

Ye gods; what is the matter with everybody? Increasingly we are seeing sloppy driving techniques that confuse and endanger other motorists. We all have to pass a driving test that involves the use of indicators yet those flicking lights are left neglected on the steering column. How hard can it be?

First, there was hand signals; those elementary arm movements were followed by little reflective stalks – known rather charmingly as semaphore trafficators – that would spring from the centre pillar at the driver’s bidding until finally, flashing lights found their way onto the corners of the our cars. They are directional lamps that indicate (see?) our intentions to other road users by flashing – in the nicest sense of the word, obviously.

Drivers today are failing to use them when pulling out at junctions and are especially guilty on roundabouts. Other innocent folk stop to give way to the right only to find that the approaching offending vehicle shoots off up another exit. A quick calculation shows that the average motorist who has been thus inconvenienced looses at least one second each time. If we could but have that time back we would all be minutes younger!

It is just as bad for pedestrians who spend a lot of time on kerbs apparently doing the Hokey-cokey as they put one leg in and take one leg out of the traffic stream in desperate attempts to cross the road, simply because they don’t know what a driver is going to do. It is not even as if it’s difficult. It’s simple; except for Ferrari drivers who are exempt because they have to control everything from an array of buttons like the flight deck of the starship Enterprise, and that’s just the ones on the steering wheel.

When used an indicator will also make a clacking noise and some form of green arrow that will indicate the direction of turn, which brings us to another point. What about the people who never turn them off? How many times have you driven along a road with the car in front permanently indicating left or right? It’s nerve-wracking: you never know what’s going to happen. Surely they can hear the irritating clacker or see the flashing light, you think, and yet they drive blithely on without a care in the world. This is especially true on roundabouts – see above.

People! These things are not some fad that should be used when the mood takes hold. Twinkling lights aren’t just for Christmas, they’re for life – literally.

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How to claim compensation for a car accident | Guest Blogger

Have you been involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault? Were you injured in any way? Do you fear getting back in the car or returning behind the wheel? Would you like to claim compensation but don’t know how to go about it? Here’s a quick guide on what you need to know to make a road accident claim, and what to look out for.

What type of car accident have you had?

There are many different road traffic accidents and it doesn’t matter what type you have had to be able to claim compensation. Whether you have had a head-on collision, been rear ended or had a motorway accident, you are entitled to some compensation.

What type of accident you have had might result in your injury. You may require months off work or even lifetime treatment, and for this you can make a road accident claim.

How do I claim for my accident?

To be able to put in a viable road accident claim, you must be able to prove that the accident was not your fault. In many instances, the other driver (or drivers) will admit fault. But where there are those tricky ones, you may be required to have witnesses that can support your claim.

It might be that you were a passenger in the car and the accident was the fault of the driver. However the accident occurred, if it was not your fault you can make a road accident claim if you can prove that your injuries, trauma or losses were the fault of someone else.

Find an expert who deals with road accident claims

It can be quite the jungle out there for road accident claims. There are so many claim management sites that it can be difficult knowing which ones to trust and who is going to charge less. The ‘No win no fee’ sites beg the question ‘how much do I pay if I win?’

You don’t want to be paying out the majority of your compensation claim. If you want to claim and would like to speak to experts on road accident claims go to the Injury Lawyers 4 U website. They too host a ‘no win no fee’ campaign, however, all their fees are covered by the other parties involved, leaving you with 100% of your compensation. Simple!

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About Time For A Fiesta ST

It’s Fiesta time, folks. Originally, the word ‘fiesta’ referred to a religious festival or celebration so, since cars are something of a religion for us, we’ll accept that as a link, however tenuous. The Ford Motor Company obviously felt they were on to something with that name and so it has proved, because the Fiesta has been with us successfully since 1976.

The current 6th Generation car has been on the market for about four years and it has proved immensely popular, remaining consistently on the best-seller lists. Small yet roomy, very good looking and great to drive, the car has something for everyone except perhaps out and out performance. We are all familiar with the hot ST version of the evergreen Focus and fans of the smaller car have been clamouring for a similar badge on the Fiesta. This year Ford have obliged.

Order yours now and you can expect delivery in March, depending on the order book, which is likely to be bulging. Priced at around £17,000 depending on preferences, buyers will probably want the ‘Molten Orange’ paint job. Alternative choices are ‘Spirit Blue’ and ‘Rado Grey’.

The ST is powered by the very fuel efficient 1.6L EcoBoost engine developing 180bhp which helps the car to do the 0-60mph sprint in 6.9 seconds. Despite this only 139g/km of CO² are emitted from the discreet twin tailpipes and Ford are still claiming over 47mpg, so clearly you can have your cake and eat it.

The car is 15mm lower than the standard version and sports Ford’s cutting edge Torque Vectoring Control for precision handling and cornering. The ESP system is especially interesting as it has three settings. These are ‘On’; ‘Wide-slip’, which turns off the traction control module, and finally ‘Off’ and you know what that means – no intervention whatsoever thus affording the over-ambitious driver with the spectacle of his own rear-end going past the window.

It’s three door only with a black trapezoidal grill, a big roof spoiler and the inevitable red brake callipers, just in case anyone is in any doubt that this car means business. A blissful addition is that Recaro seats are standard. A real bonus.

There’s a generous amount of the latest technology including Ford’s SYNC system that controls your music and ‘phone with voice commands. The car is also offered with the MyKey system which enables performance limitations in case you lend it to your kids. Seriously; as if.

Ford have done it again. The Fiesta has always been a good car and the current model is the best yet. The ST goes one step further and that’s a true religious experience.

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Cars On Television

Great news! After a year’s break and no Christmas special, the premier car show – in the world – is returning to our small screens next Sunday for seven weeks. That’s right; TG is back and as usual the three refugees from Last Of the Summer Wine will again grace our TV’s with their usual larky high jinks and a choice selection of (mostly) desirable cars.

But is that enough? Are car and driving enthusiasts catered for on the box? The problem is that cars are still viewed by the chattering classes as evil incarnate. Somehow or other, the automobile has taken the brunt of the climate change guilt without a fair hearing. Certainly the car must take its share of blame but if any industry has pulled out all the stops to work towards a cleaner future more than car manufacturing, it would come as a big surprise.

There’s Fifth Gear of course but these days it seems hastily cobbled together, trying to pack an hour’s show into half that time. It is rushed, no matter how enthusiastic the presenters are. Also, it has been shunted off to the Discovery Channel robbing terrestrial viewers of even that delight.

Motor sport fans fare just as badly. The BBC believe that Formula One is the only game in town and all the UK channels, however received or broadcast, completely ignore motor rallies; even the World Championship. Motors TV tries hard and ITV4 covers the British Touring Car Championship very well, but that’s it.

Thanks in the main to JC, Top Gear has moved on from the stiff and starchy early days (Noel Edmonds! Angela Rippon!) to a more fluid format but has the emphasis shifted too far towards fun rather than car content? Every driving nut in the country would no doubt like to try a Pagani Huayra but very few of them would buy one even if they had the very many Euros required.

However, many would be interested in hearing about the new Fiesta ST or the latest Freelander. There’s a wealth of autos priced under £30k that would satisfy everyone’s needs whatever their fancy. The Crossover / SUV market is awash with desirable, well-priced vehicles, for example.

Nissan’s popular Juke (a third of a million of them built so far) has been breathed upon by Nissan Motorsport resulting in the Nismo, a 197bhp pocket rocket (see image) that will satisfy most drivers for a modest twenty thousand. Why, on British third world roads, would we need more?

We probably don’t want TG to change but we almost certainly would like a magazine programme that covers the sorts of cars we mostly buy. It doesn’t have to be stuffy provided the presenters are personable people who, crucially, actually know about cars and the needs of modern motorists. What do you think?

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