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Chinese car makers set their sights on Europe

Four cars from China were shown alongside some of the most famous cars in the world at the Frankfurt Motor Show which ended this weekend. The company who produces them are confident that their presence at the famous auto show will be the start of a successful future for the manufacturer.

First appearance in Europe

Chang’an Automobile is currently based in the south-western city of Chongqing and the two sedans, one SUV and an electric car they displayed at Frankfurt was their first foray into Europe. Taking pride of place was the EADO sedan which is going to be available throughout Europe in both a 1.6L and 1.5T engine with power reaching 81kW and CO2 emissions being lower than 120g/km. The EADO is being marketed as a competitor to the likes of the Hyundai Excel or the Toyota Corolla and will come with ABS, EBD and six airbags as standard. Although no official price has been released it is thought the car will be on sale for around £13,000 when it is sold in the United Kingdom.

Next stop the USA

Chang’an Automobile have also confirmed that once drivers in Europe start getting a motor insurance quote for their cars and they become a common sight on the roads, the next step will be to move into the United States market as they plan to develop into a worldwide producer of vehicles. The company’s plans to enter the international market have been carefully mapped out by developing partnerships with Ford, Suzuki and Peugeot Citroen. Overall, the company hope that overseas sales will account for 20% of its total business in the next four years.

Chinese whispers

It is the first time Chang’an have exhibited their cars in Europe but it won’t be the last. The chairman of the company has already said they may go to Paris and as with everything Chinese at the moment, they appear to have the impetus to reach into any market they take an interest in. With rumours abounding in the UK that Jaguar Land Rover’s success in the Far East will result in a partnership with a Chinese player, one wonders if we may be taking out car insurance cover on the Chang’an models in the UK quicker than we anticipated.

Price drop due to colour may prove hard on the palate

Purchasing a new car is still an exciting time for most people. Even hardened drivers of fleet cars still look forward with a tingle of excitement to the new car that comes their way every 3 years or so. We all know that there is plenty of choice when it comes to makes and models and it is this particular factor that usually persuades us to get a motor insurance quotation on a vehicle in the first place. However, the colour of the car also is a big factor for many private buyers.

Getting noticed comes at a price

Traditionally the more, shall we say, modest colours have been the most popular for motorists in the UK with blue, silver and red making up a great proportion of the cars sold on the forecourts of garages on our island. Interestingly enough, a recent article showed that motorists who want to make a statement and do it by buying a car in a more exotic colour shade, may be paying twice over for the privilege.

Wait for delivery and wait to get a sale

First of all manufacturers produce the more modest colours in their millions, once we start talking about, green, yellows and pinks then there are far fewer produced which usually puts a premium on their price and extends the waiting time to get delivery. This is all well and good for those that really do want a specific vehicle; it allows them time to sort out some low cost insurance which may make up a little for the extra they have paid on the car. It is when the car comes up for resale, however, when the double whammy effect kicks in.

Who wants a purple Audi?

According to used car experts a car coming from the more exotic spectrum of the colour wheel can lose up to 5% of its value and is usually more difficult to sell. The extra loss is explained by the time the car may take to sell. Extra advertising and depreciation costs both knock value of what was once a prize possession. It may be quite easy to sell a brightly coloured beetle but that is not always the case for cars in the luxury class. Not many owners of Audi’s, BMW’s and Volvo’s are to keen about buying one in bright orange.

Green not envied by many

Of course colours go in and out of fashion like many other things and at the moment shiny black cars seem to be everywhere, but just talk to the owner of a new black car and you will find out that keeping it looking new can be a nightmare. So you pay your money and take your chance, but always try and avoid green… apparently no-one likes them!

New Jaguar plant will create thousands of jobs

The news that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) are to build their new plant in Staffordshire will be a great shot in the arm for the West Midlands economy but at the same time will prove a disappointment for those in South Wales.

Skilled and unskilled opportunities

The announcement by JLR yesterday that they are to build a new £355 million factory on the outskirts of Wolverhampton in the West Midlands will provide the area with 750 skilled jobs, a total that will dwarf the creation of skilled jobs in the area over the last 5 years. Not only will skilled craftsman be delighted with the news but thousands of secondary jobs will be created in areas around the factory by companies who will supply the JLR production line.

Change in fortune

The new plant will be the biggest motor manufacturing plant built in the UK for the last 20 years and will produce the new four cylinder engines that are persuading motorists all over the world to get motor insurance quotes on JLR vehicles. It is only just over a year ago that JLR were looking to close a plant in the West Midlands and the rapid change in fortunes can be put down to the popularity of JLR vehicles all over the world, and China in particular.

Venture into the Far East

In fact around 25,000 Chinese motorists organised car insurance cover on a JLR vehicle last year which accounted for roughly 10% of the company’s sales. It is now confirmed that JLR are in talks with a Chinese automotive partner to further advance their progress in the far Eastern market. Ralph Spef, the Chief Executive, has been at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week and has certainly discussed plans with a Chinese delegation on their next moves, but it is anticipated that any partnership would need the approval of the Chinese Government and so will not come about for at least 12 months.

Disappointment for Wales

The announcement that the plant will be built in Staffordshire came as a blow to a couple of sites in South Wales who were hoping the new factory would be situated close to Bridgend where Ford currently manufacture engines for JLR. However, the plant could easily have gone abroad and that would have been disastrous news. The plant will take two years to build and should be finished by Christmas 2013.

Frankfurt Show Gets Underway

The 2011 Frankfurt motor show proved once again why so many industry insiders, as well as motor enthusiasts from all over the world, flock in their thousands to this iconic show.

Recycled Merc a big hit

This year’s event started on the 13th September for the press and is set to run for several more days yet, visitors will not be disappointed. Of course along with everything else in the motor world the show is heavily influenced by green issues and perhaps one of the most extraordinary exhibits wasn’t a car at all. Well it wasn’t a working car. A German company made a stunning sculpture of a Mercedes Benz Gullwing out of recycled scrap car parts. The vision was truly stunning and was just one sample of what the ingenious makers can create from recycled motors.

Plenty for all

On the more conventional front all the major manufacturers had a variety of models on sale to tempt visitors to get a motor insurance quote which of course they could do at the show, and there were plenty of visitors showing interest in sports car insurance and it is hardly a wonder why. Just a few of the top end sports cars on show were the; Maserati Grancabrio Fendi, the Aston Martin DBS Carbon, and the new Bentley GT, which was making its world debut.

Concept cars make their bow

There are plenty of new world concept cars in the show with all the major manufacturers giving us their version of the future. Audi are unveiling the Audi Urban, an A2 model that is designed for city driving and is made of carbon fibre- reinforced polymer. Ford show us their vision of the future through the Ford Evos and promise the innovations in this car will soon be transferred into production models. Not to be outdone on home territory, BMW display the i8. This concept car is designed as a family car packed full of classic BMW engineering and intelligence.

NILS points the way

However, if success is based on how much of a talking point a new car is, then the Volkswagen NILS wins the competition outright. The big, big brother of the C2 perhaps, this concept of transport is truly futuristic. The NILS is a single passenger vehicle with an aluminium frame, doors and dynamic performance akin to a sports car and yet there is no sign of an exhaust or for that matter any roaring or growling coming from anywhere else in the vehicle. This zero emission concept is only 10 feet long, 4feet high and just plain ridiculously slim. The car design does indeed emanate from a Formula 1 layout but bears little resemblance to anything else.

Visitors to the show have until September 25th to see what the motoring world has to offer and the great majority will not be disappointed.

Servicing charges going through the bonnet

The latest inflation figures out today put the average cost of inflation at 4.5%, no doubt a worrying figure for everyone, but motorists could be forgiven for wishing that the costs of running their vehicle had just stopped at an increase of 4.5% over the last 12 months.

Spiralling costs take cars off the road

The cost of fuel has gone up by about three times that figure over the last year and has contributed to bringing the number of drivers on UK roads down to 28 million from a peak of 30 million in 2009/10. It would seem the “green army” are having their work done for them by the combined efforts of the government and greedy petroleum companies. They are lowering the amount of vehicles in the UK simply because people can no longer afford to drive.

Crippling insurance charges

On top of fuel prices motorists have encountered almost unbelievable increases in their motor insurance cover and for some youngsters the cheapest car insurance they can find is way beyond their means and often runs into thousands of pounds. And then of course motorists have to pay road tax, MOT charges and the essential servicing fees.

Massive difference in charges

It is servicing charges that are now attracting the attention of frugal motorists. A recent report shows that the average cost of an hour’s labour by a car mechanic is now slightly over £80. An increase of about 8% on the average price last year. However, the report found there were vast differences in the amounts garages charged, with some in the middle of London charging over £200 an hour servicing costs. There is also a big difference in charging policy between independent garages and those tied in to franchises by manufacturers. On average an independent garage will charge slightly over £60 an hour, the average cost from a branded garage is over half as much again coming in at £95 an hour!

Lame excuses?

Garages do try their best to justify these costs with some putting the pricing down to inflationary costs on energy, fuel and other commodities, as well as explaining the cost of diagnostic equipment and the training of mechanics get ever more expensive. They point out that motorists can now in many cases opt for fixed price service deals which will save them money in the long run, however, motorists will find labour costs of £200 very hard to come to terms with on any deal and garages should consider their charging if they want to retain their custom.

Drink driving tests show significant drop

It appears that drink driving motorists are more likely to get away with their anti-social habit this year compared to previous years as the number of drivers checked and given the breathalyser test has dropped dramatically according to the latest set of figures available.

They know the risk

Drink drivers are quite aware of the chances they take when they get into their vehicle under the influence of drink. If they are stopped by a police car they know a driving ban is almost certainly inevitable and cheap car insurance a thing of the past…forever! However, those prepared to take the gamble will be delighted by the findings of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request on the number of drivers stopped by traffic police and asked to take a breathalyser test.

Cuts forcing constabularies to reduce manpower

The FoI was responded to by 35 of the Police Forces asked and the stunning statistics show that 24% fewer motorists were breathalysed up to May 2011 than in the previous year. Critics say the reduction can be traced to the budget cuts forced upon constabularies across the UK who can no longer afford the man power necessary to put out adequate traffic control teams. Indeed around 60% of the respondents confirmed they had cut their traffic control teams in the last 12 months.

Drink driving not socially acceptable

In all 9,000 fewer motorists were given the test and road safety organisations say that coupled with the reduction in the number of speed enforcement cameras in operation, UK road safety has taken a massive backward step in the last few years. They are afraid that the work of a complete generation of road safety adverts will be lost if the present policy is continued. And they have a point. No longer is it socially acceptable to drink and drive and those that do bring shame upon themselves and can find little support anywhere. This is completely down to the concerted efforts of road safety campaigners and the willingness of successive governments to fund hard hitting campaigns.

Minister refutes accusation

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning, however, is not convinced that Government policy is to blame and quickly points out that of those who have been subjected to the test 8% more have been prosecuted which indicates that Police Officers are using their resources more intelligently. Whatever the truth is, most motorists will be disappointed that those prepared to lose their licence and incur massive motor insurance premiums seem to have less chance of being caught than they had in the past.

Cluttered cars becoming a safety issue on our roads

How many of us can honestly say we keep our cars clean and tidy. The vehicle we use to get us to work, the kids to school, the family on holiday and the pack horse that brings home the supermarket shop does not stay in pristine condition for long.

Clutter soon builds up

The demands of modern life mean that very few people keep their car looking the same as it did when they picked it up after organising motor vehicle insurance on it for the first time. It does not take too long before the car becomes “personalised”. Of course most people like to have personal objects in the cocoon that they spend so much time in, unfortunately according to a recent AA survey we are putting ourselves and our families at risk by cluttering up our vehicles.

Blinded by the light

The Survey, conducted on 2,000 cars travelling on a motorway, revealed that 1 in 20 cars had significantly obscured the driver’s vision by cluttering up the windscreen or rear window with objects. The survey revealed a plethora of cuddly toys, scented air fresheners and sporting regalia, were putting drivers at risk every day. It also revealed a strange belief that grips thousands of motorists in the UK! Apparently many people are convinced that a dangling CD will prevent speed cameras from recording their speed, a conviction that is totally refuted by the police force. However, they do point out that the dangling CD can well blind a driver coming in the opposite direction in some conditions.

Drivers face fines if safety is compromised

A police spokesman also points out that drivers can be fined for cluttering their windscreens with objects that could impair their vision and therefore compromise the safety of road users. The CD or scented tree therefore can have a big impact on the price of your car insurance cover. Even a sat-nav can cause loss of visibility for the driver if it isn’t placed correctly. It is also worth remembering that a car could feasibly fail an MOT if it is badly cluttered to the point where vision loss is an issue.

A clean car is a safer car

Of course the most dangerous aspect of a cluttered car comes into play when there is a collision. Objects flying about a car can maim and kill quite easily and a driver struggling to keep control of the vehicle can easily be impeded by objects blocking his vision or even blocking the controls of the car. It is not always easy to empty the car of clutter after every journey but keeping a clear windscreen will undoubtedly improve the safety rating of your car.

Ecovelocity powers into Battersea this week

Motorists from all corners of the UK will be converging on the old Battersea Power Station later this week when it stages the festival of eco-motoring for the very first time.

Event will showcase new technology

The show, labelled Ecovelocity, will give spectators an insight into the latest vehicles that are coming on to the market, the low down on how hi-tech manufacturing is revolutionising the motoring trade and the benefits that low carbon emission vehicles will have on our lives. The show will cover the whole gamut of the breed of cars and customers will even get the chance to purchase motor vehicle insurance on a brand new car.

Low emissions valuable asset for capital dwellers

With the show being based in the Capital many visitors will be well aware of the advantages low and zero emission vehicles hold for the London driver. The new vehicles are exempt from congestion charge, often exempt from road tax and in some parts of London exempt from parking charges. Of course cleaner air to breathe is the end product of the new generation of cars and this was the prime mover in putting the new technology in place.

Manufacturers out in force

Visitors to the show will get the chance to actually drive some of the exhibits on a specially constructed test circuit and it is here that manufacturers like Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Kia, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen hope to convince prospective customers to splash out on car insurance cover for one of the new breed of cars. It is vitally important to all manufacturers that the public begin to buy in to the new concept and shows like Ecovelocity have a lot riding on them.

Supercars and training courses will rub shoulders

The show will feature a Green Supercar Paddock where one-off models such as the Tesla Roadster and Bluebird Electric will demonstrate just what is achievable by the mechanics and engineers at the forefront of the technology. Youngsters will have plenty to do at the show as well. SEAT will give youngsters between 11 and 16 the chance to participate in the “young drivers programme” and Honda will be presenting their well established introduction to motor cycling for young children.

The show will run from Thursday September 6th through to Sunday September 11th with charges for adults being £10, children £5 and a family ticket £25.

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Car safety gadgets entering a new era

Although the main aim of motor manufacturers over the last decade appears to have been to be the first producer of a successful mass produced zero emission car, there have been other developments going on, mainly involving safety.

Message not getting across

Consumers across the UK have been swamped by advertisers telling them their next motor insurance quote should be for a car with zero or low emissions but however hard the media men try and push this, consumers are not yet falling in love with the new breed of vehicles.

Technology focussing on before and not after

Survey after survey reveals that motorists are looking for value for money, comfort and reliability in a new car, and of course safety. The advances in safety have been a triumph over the last decade and almost every country in the western world can boast of falling major accident casualties because of the new technology built into our cars. In the past, safety features on cars have been “secondary”. Air bags and metal technology have been designed to protect the driver and passengers after an accident has occurred; today’s technology is focussing on stopping the accident happening in the first place.

Who will be driving?

In the near future car insurance brokers will be offering deals on vehicles that automatically dip their headlights when another car is approaching, that have inflatable rear seat belts and insist on the driver indicating when he wants to change lanes. And that is not the end by any means. Sensors and cameras in the cars will make the car stop if it anticipates a collision and laser technology will once and for all get rid of the blind spot every car driver fears.

Cost implications

Of course all these features will add cost to a car, those offered by major manufacturers at the moment put about £2,000 on the cost of a model but this may well prove more attractive to consumers than forking out an extra £10,000 for a car with no exhaust and no track record to compare it by.

Safety groups not convinced-yet

Not everyone is impressed by the new safety gadgets and many motoring and road safety groups observe that the new technology will make the modern day driver even lazier in his warm, gadget packed cocoon. They believe the emphasis should be on better driving skills and closer traffic management, however, the safety track record of motor manufacturers is getting better and not many will argue with that.