Tag Archive | "EU"

The Point Of Motorways

Unless your editor has got things tragically wrong, the idea of motorways was to speed up traffic and journeys by virtue of wide roads and direct routes. Generally speaking, travel on these routes is pretty joyless but they do serve commerce and convenience.

On 5 December 1958, the eight mile Preston bypass (pictured – now part of the M6) opened. It was closely followed by the M1 which runs north–south and was the first inter-urban motorway to be completed in the UK. 1958 really was the start of the motorway age of motoring.

That Britain’s growing band of motorists increasingly found they were able to stretch the boundaries of work and leisure when unthinkable journeys of the past gradually became the norm. There was no speed limit either although, obviously, cars of the time could not routinely achieve the average performance of cars today.

At the time, nobody was truly aware of how fast – in a growth sense – motoring would move on and despite all our motorways and major trunk roads today our highways network simply hasn’t kept pace.

The other thing that’s happened is the European Union. We now have a body of people from all over Europe telling us what to do. One of the things they want us to do is to slow down and clean up the air. Despite the fact that car manufacturers continue to work tirelessly to produce ever cleaner engines we have now reached the stage where the Highways Agency has revealed that a thirty four mile section of the M1 – spanning Derbyshire and South Yorkshire – would have a maximum speed limit of 60mph between 7am and 7pm seven days a week from 2015 onwards as part of a drive to meet European Union clean air targets.

As a motorist I have my own views on this which have no place here but in a very recent poll over two thirds of motorists wanted the Government to apply the brakes to plans to lower speeds limits on motorways on the basis that it simply defeats the point of having them.

Motorists are already doing their bit for the environment by buying greener cars in record numbers and the Government needs to respond in kind by making our roads better rather than introducing measures that will only contribute to making our motorways even slower.

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Euro Targets Will Cost You

Ever wondered how the cost of your new car is arrived at? Construction, parts, labour and a variety of taxes all help to raise the buying price. Add into that profit across the board and the extra money it takes to send all the manufacturer’s creative teams off on extended snowboarding holidays and we arrive at the staggering sum that you that have to fork out at the dealership.

Well, that’s the price you pay for a new car: and now it is going to get worse – at least in Europe. Over the next two years it is estimated that the cost of a new car will rise, potentially, by a figure somewhere between about £850 and £5000 (for prestige cars), with two thousand pounds as the possible average. This is because of new Euro-rules being initiated in Brussels.

These rules, roundly condemned by an industry that is already struggling, will include exhaust emissions and safety equipment, right down to the type of coolant in the air-conditioning system. One example is that a maximum NCAP will be virtually impossible to achieve unless the car is fitted with an autonomous emergency braking system.

Diesels, inevitably, will bear the biggest brunt – see below. Note that this is only Europe; there is no explanation why we, stuck in the middle between East and West, should be lumbered with regulations that are tougher than the rest of the world. Thus, cars built for export to other parts of the planet will not necessarily be so affected.

The regulation that has the biggest impact is called Euro 6. Look it up if you want the full details because they are far too tedious to list here. Basically though, this applies to exhaust gases that are not CO² but rather NOx – nitrogen oxide. The current standard is 180mg/km but this must be reduced to 80mg/km on all new motors from 2015.FORD Euro Targets Will Cost You

This is especially tough if you want a diesel because the figure can‘t be achieved from existing engine stock. Car makers will have to come up with new ones.

Now; everybody wants cleaner cars and cleaner air. We all see the sense in it, but would it not be right to say that the European car industry already knows this? They are in an extremely competitive business and they wouldn’t be much good at it if they didn’t continually push the envelope to satisfy customers who are the people who should really have their ear. They will have no option to comply if they are to maintain their position in the global car market.

BMW’s Chief Executive sums it up best so we’ll quote him, “This is all about political wish lists and nothing to do with technical analysis and feasibility.”

One more thing if that wasn’t enough. Fuel companies will have to include or increase the amount of bio-fuel in both diesel and petrol. This produces less energy so you will spend, it is guessed, somewhere between fifty and one hundred pounds per annum to compensate. Even the Friends of the Earth are against this. Who’d have thought it? Apparently they insist that such a move would increase deforestation to grow the raw materials and that’s probably true. Start saving now. The other picture is a rendering of the new 2015 Ford Mustang just to see how it could have been – once.

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Yet More Intrusive EU Proposals

Sometimes, the things people do beggar belief. It makes you wonder which planet they are from and sometimes it seems that politicians are at the forefront of ridiculous ideas; making up as they do legislation for legislations sake to justify their very existence. It’s not unreasonable to expect our ‘leaders’ to have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world at large and yet it seems that they basically haven’t got a clue as to the true and serious possible outcomes of their crackpot schemes. They just don’t think it through.

Here’s the latest brilliant wheeze to come out of the European parliament in Brussels: Our lords and masters want to ensure that cars cannot be modified once they leave the factory and any changes to the original spec will be identified by way of a hugely altered MOT. Essentially, if their proposal extends to all cars on the road, any car that is so modified will be illegal.

Take the example of a classic car. New cars are safer and better made than ever before and many safety measures have been applied that would never have been possible even thirty years ago. What happens then if the owner of a classic car modifies it to improve safety by fitting, say, bigger or better brakes? Why, this would be illegal under the terms of this lunatic proposal.

Enthusiasts who change cars don’t do so lightly. They are usually responsible people who put safety first. If they add more power then they boost the brakes and so on. Illegal – if the mad-eyed proposers have their way. After-market rear-light clusters on an old Citroen Saxo to perk it up a bit? Illegal. Add your own further suggestions.

Nobody likes having the worry of an MOT and these days the test is pretty rigorous. Why on earth is it necessary to tinker with it further. The Eurocrats will say they have our safety at heart but, if they stopped and thought about it, they’d see that the manufacturers have made huge strides in this area. There is simply no need to interfere.

It will also cost jobs. For example, there exists a thriving classic car market and professional repair sector. Garages who specialise will be decimated simply because they cannot get original parts and resort to using new and usually better made after-market equivalents. Big auto part retailers will lose trade and many areas of the industry will be put at risk.

Needless to say, every motoring organisation is up in arms, as are car makers and anyone involved in the auto trade. Meanwhile, the Department for Transport – obfuscating in the way only politicians can do whilst back-peddling furiously like a clown on a unicycle – are saying that it is only a proposal at this stage and could be amended or even dropped ‘after consultation.’ Yeah, right.

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E-Calling New Cars

When an authority – in this case the mighty EU – decide to enact another rule, it is sometimes hard to decide whether it is a good thing or not. Mostly, citizen’s hate being dictated to but in this latest instance it might just be a good idea.

From 2015 the European Parliament wants all new cars to be fitted with eCall – an automatic device with a direct line to the emergency services. In the event of a crash the system will automatically signal the 112 alarm (that’s Europe’s version of 999) and start the emergency response. The idea for this was first mooted in 2003 and a voluntary deal was done to have this kit fitted into all European cars by 2009. Although some 0.4% cars were duly equipped, most were not. Accordingly, this generated the present intention to make them mandatory.

Sensors will know when an impact occurs, triggered by the deployment of airbags for example. Satellite tracking will determine the exact location of the accident and contact the nearest emergency service thus minimising delays in response times. It is estimated that this could save 2500 lives each year and, by virtue of the earlier attendance, help reduce the severity of injuries.

The system will also provide some evidence of the circumstances leading up to the incident. This will include vehicle ID, direction of travel, speed and so on. Knowing how the device was triggered, either automatically or by a passenger may also suggest an idea of the state of the occupants. At some point, motorcycles, commercials and PSV’s will be included.

The idea is that car makers will have to build the device into the car. This is expected to add some eighty pounds to the cost of a new car, although economies of scale may bring that down. Full deployment will require the combines efforts of manufacturers, emergency services and mobile operators. The UK is still considering this as some are concerned about cost issues, but it is probable that we’ll go along with it at some point.

Registering for the scheme is expected to be free. The system could well be subsumed over time into insurance schemes, road tolls and tracking of stolen vehicles. The EU are insisting that eCall will not be used to track people and will essentially be in hibernation mode until such time as an incident occurs. That’s the worry. Can they be trusted to honour that commitment? Nevertheless, this seems to be a sensible step to improved road safety. Maybe it will help bring down insurance premiums!

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