Driverless cars on the road soon?

Do not be surprised if in a few years from now you see a car approaching you with no one in the driver’s seat! Experiment have been taking place and a group of engineers at Oxford university have been experimenting for some time now and tests have already been carried out on the MIRA test track successfully.

In an announcement from a government source has indicated that we may indeed see these on British road soon but we are also reminded that previously they had pledged to have them on our roads by the end of last year!

Of course we are just really playing catch up as other countries have already allowed these cars which are known as autonomous vehicles, on public roads already. These have been seen in California where it has been reported that the Google driverless car has done a massive 300, 000 miles on the road! Also the Nissan Company has tested its driverless car on Japan’s roads.

So what is the point in having these autonomous cars on our roads? We can understand that such a vehicle could be very useful at parking a car into a very tight spot, but how will it react if a child or dog shoots out in front of it? What about spotting a motor cyclist weaving in and out of a line of vehicles? These question would have to be answered we imagine, before the public will be happy to see them.

Driverless car

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Forty years of Scirocco success

It is 40 years since Volkswagen introduced the Scirocco into the motoring world and it would be fair comment to say that in all this time it has been a very successful and much sought after car.

The first model had distinct clean, chiselled lines, not unlike the Ital of the time, but there the similarity ended, the 1.6 litre engine version was the one that people hankered after. In 1979 the Storm followed sharing the same engine as the iconic Mk1 Golf GTI producing a very healthy110bhp.

Then in 1981 a mark2 version hit the roads and soon the Opal Manta and Ford Capri began to look extremely dated, the Storm configuration had a luxurious look with leather seats, and was powered by a fuel injected 1.8 litre engines.

The mark 3 followed in 2006 and it again was based on the Golf floor pan and was offered with a huge variety of variants the most powerful of which was the 276bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine, the pace leaving its predecessors, as well as rival cars far behind. Which brings us to the latest version, which we have to report is only a facelift, but nonetheless it will live up to the revered Scirocco name just as all the other have over 40 years.


Scirocco mk1


Scirocco R

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Royals criticised over baby seat in limo

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been criticised over a car seat installed in Prince George’s official car as the couple prepare for a royal tour to New Zealand.  The Maxi-Cosi Tobi safety seat was fitted in the royal limo by the charity Plunket, an organisation providing support and service to parents and young children.  Following a request from Kate and William, the seat was fitted facing outwards.

UK government guidelines state that babies and infants are only required to be in rear-facing car seats until they exceed the maximum weight for the seat and are old enough to sit up unaided.  At eight months of age, George is able to do that, but Plunket has its own guidelines recommending that children be kept in rear-facing cat seats until they have reached the age of two.  According to the charity, rear-facing seats have the effect of significantly reducing risk of injury or death, and offer protection for a baby or toddler’s head, neck and spine.

After Plunket issued photographs showing its car seat services technician installing the seat in the royal limo, hundreds of complaints were lodged online by parents angry at what they perceived to be double standards.  Plunket chief executive Jenny Prince responded by saying that the role of Plunket was “to provide advice and work in partnership with parents to make informed decisions that worked best for them.”

In a statement, Zac Prendergast, spokesman for Plunket, said he had been speaking to the technician, Aethalia O’Connor, and that the seat was fitted “in line with the parents’ preferences.”

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Toyota shows faith in people

The trend in manufacturing may appear to be robots replacing people, but at Toyota Motor Corporation the opposite is happening.  Mitsuru Kawai, a veteran of half of a century with the Japanese motoring giant, has been asked by company president Akio Toyoda to bring the car maker back to basics, with a focus on sharpening manual skills among workers.  Recalling his early days with Toyota, Kawai says experienced ‘masters were referred to as gods and “could make anything.”

The gods, or Kami-sama in Japanese, are set to make a comeback at Toyota as the company strives to replace machines with workers at manufacturing plants located across Japan, with the aim of allowing workers to develop new skills and for the company to improve production.

The renewed emphasis on the role played by the Kami-sama is a reflection of Toyota’s vision for the company set up by his grandfather, as the 57 year-old chief executive prioritises quality and efficiency over the growth mentality previously seen.  Toyoda has taken a decision to hold back on expansion at the company, the world’s largest maker of cars, with a three-year freeze on construction of new car plants already announced.

Giving younger workers the opportunity to learn how to make car parts from scratch provides them with the type of immersive experience in the manufacturing process that they just would not get otherwise.  Around 100 manual-intensive workspaces have been rolled out at Toyota facilities across Japan in the past three years.  The lessons learnt from these workspaces can be applied to the reprogramming of machines and to reduce waste and improve processes, according to Kawai.

At a workspace area in the forging division of Toyota’s Honsha plant, an area directly supervised by Kawai himself, workers eschew the automated processes found in other manufacturing facilities in favour of twisting, turning and hammering mental into crankshafts.  As a result of the work undertaken there, innovations have been introduced, reducing scrap levels and cutting the production line by 96 per cent in three years.  Toyota has managed to eliminate around 10 per cent of waste related to materials used in the building of crankshafts at Honsha.  According to Kawai, the objective is to apply those savings to the manufacture of the next generation of Prius hybrids.

Toyota’s Honsha plant

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Driving door-free

Student Sam Wilson has been fined after police in Nottinghamshire caught the 25 year-old driving a car that had no doors or lights, as well as no bonnet.  Wilson was using his arms to signal when turning the car, a Peugeot 306 he intended selling for scrap.

Wilson, an electrical engineering student who also works as a pizza delivery man, was under the impression that the vehicle was roadworthy owing to its valid MOT certificate.  Wilson was trying to take the car to a recycling centre located five miles from his home in Bingham.  He had removed parts of the car with the intention of selling them over the internet.  At the time the vehicle was stopped by police, it was missing all four doors, bonnet, grill, headlights, front and back indicators and rear brake lights.  Police said the Peugeot 306 was a “skeleton of a vehicle.”

At a sitting of Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, Wilson, a father of two, was found guilty of being in a vehicle the use of which involved a danger of injury to any person.  He received a fine of £110 and was ordered to pay £120 costs.  He also received three penalty points in respect of his licence.

Wilson said that he had been careful not to remove from the vehicle any of what he regarded as key working parts.  Describing the case as one that “beggars belief”, a spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police insisted that the force had to take action after spotting the vehicle.

Wilson was paid £70 for scrapping the car.

no doors

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Promoting your car club

Joining a car club allows people to meet fellow enthusiasts who share the same interests, but it is important that all of the members take an active role in promoting the club so that it can attract new members.

The easiest and often the cheapest way of promoting your car club is through social media and the internet. Set up a website that tells perspective members the clubs mission statement, expectations and goals, and also add a new page to keep all members up to date on what’s going on. Social networks are also a great way of keeping in touch with members and attracting new members, so think about setting up a Twitter and Facebook account for the club.

If the club already has a website and social pages, you can always help by contributing to it in the form of a blog post or forum discussion, or sharing news on your own social networking pages.

Another great way to promote your car club is to hold events such as car gatherings, charity raffles and other car related activities. This will show your car club off to a wider audience and help attract new members.

Merchandise has been used by many companies to promote their products and services for many years, so why not use it for your car club. Printed labels and car stickers are a great place to start and can be purchased here. Clothing can also be printed up with your clubs logo and sold to members to make a profit for the club.

Car clubs are great fun, and promoting yours in the right way will attract new members and provide a positive change to your community.

car showPicture: Nick Knouse

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Audi introduces virtual cockpit

German car manufacturer Audi has redesigned its famous TT car for the smartphone generation. First developed in 1995, the TT sports model got an update in 2006, with a somewhat modified look to make it sharper and give an improved performance. A five-year design process has led to the new TT. Dany Garand, the lead exterior designer for the upgrade, says the new TT has a more aggressive and masculine look in what represents “an intentional shift to position the TT as a legitimate sports car behind the R8 in the Audi line up.”

The most radical change, however, comes on the inside. Drivers will be familiar with the traditional dashboards of gauges, dials and fixed needles, but for the re-designed TT, Audi has embraced modern technology. The new car beams such information as speed, revolutions per minute and fuel levels from a high-resolution LCD screen to form a customisable virtual cockpit. The new way of doing things is actually two separate systems. One is an isolated so-called safety system, displaying such items as the rev counter and speed. The other is an internet-connected infotainment platform and the two are then fused into a single screen. Drivers will be able to swap the central fuel monitor for a music-track list or a list of contacts. Alternatively, they will be able to swap it for calls from a Bluetooth phone or a miniature satellite-view map drawn from Google Earth.

The technology in the new TT is based on QNX, a Unix-like operating system favoured by a majority of car makers.  The software relies on two automotive-grade Nvidia Tegra 3 processors, similar to those used in the latest generation of smartphones and tablets.

Audi virtual cockpit

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Volkswagen Group to expand its range of cars in the future

Volkswagen Group boss Martin Winterkorn has announced that the company will be making a wider range of car models in the future. The VW Group currently comprises of 12 brands including Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT and Skoda, producing a combined number of 310 models and Winterkorn wants that to grow even bigger.

Speaking at the VW Group’s annual investor conference, Mr Winterkorn said, “We need even more bodystyles and give our customers even more chance to personalise them.”

The VW Group boss also went on to say that models will be revised or replaced at a quicker pace than in the past, noting that currently a car is on sale for seven years before being superseded.

This year the VW Group will be replacing a number of models including the Audi A4 and Q7, Skoda Fabia and the Volkswagen Passat. Winterkorn also voiced his ambitions for the VW Group to become the world’s biggest car maker by the end of 2018; Toyota currently holds the number one slot.

VW Group

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Citroën C3 Picasso Review

Engine choices, ride and handling

Those looking to buy a Citroën C3 Picasso can choose from two petrol engines or two diesel engines:

  • 1.4 litre VTi 95 (94bhp) petrol
  • 1.6 litre VTi 120 (118bhp) petrol
  • 1.6 litre HDi 90 (89bhp) diesel
  • 1.6 litre HDi 115 (113bhp) diesel

The VTi 95 engine is perfect if you do most of your driving around town, although you might want to choose the 1.6 litre VTi 120 if you do a lot of motorway driving. Both diesel engines are strong and flexible enough for any type of driving.

The Citroën C3 Picasso rides very comfortably thanks to its supple suspension, but does roll around a bit when the road get uneven; this isn’t really a problem though as the C3’s steering has a reassuring feel.

The engines are generally smooth and quiet, and although you can hear some wind noise through the windscreen, road noise is well contained to the outside of the vehicle.

Price and quality

Although the Citroën C3 Picasso isn’t that cheap there are deals to be had, so think of the £13,490 starting price tag as a negotiation starting point. Both petrol engines average over 40mpg, which isn’t too shabby and the HDi 90 diesel engine provides 67.2mpg making it an efficient choice. One thing to bear in mind is that Citroën’s don’t particularly hold their value well compared to other manufacturers.

Citroën’s of the past had pretty shabby interiors, but the same cannot be said about the C3 Picasso. The metallic accents around the vents and digital instrument display provide a sense of luxury, while the dashboard is finished in textured plastic to give it a more expensive feel.

Safety, space and practicality

Front airbags are standard on all Citroën C3 Picasso’s, but unfortunately curtain airbags and stability control are optional extras on entry-level models. An immobiliser and deadbolts are as standard to deter the would-be thief.

The cabin feels light and airy thanks to the wrap-around windscreen and there is enough space for any shape of driver. The boot is quite big at 385 litres of capacity and rival an estate car when the back seats are folded down.

Citroën C3 Picasso

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Advertising your business with car window stickers

Marketing your own business can be a costly endeavour, but create the right car window sticker and motorists will advertise your business for you. Just like car manufacturers use dealership car window stickers to promote local dealerships, you too can advertise your business in the same way.

The first thing to do is create a professional looking design that clearly says what your company name is and what you do. Once the design is finished its time to get it printed. Due to new printing technologies it is now possible to create a car sticker in any shape or size you want, in a single colour or multiple colours to suit your specifications. New technologies also mean that you do not have to buy in bulk and small lots can be purchased when you need them.

The first place to put your advertising stickers is of course you vehicles, most companies go even further and have vinyl branding fitted to their work vehicles, this also help the brand get noticed.

Give stickers to friends and family so they can help you advertise you company in the early days and give them away for free to your customers, who knows if they have had a good service they might put them up in their car giving you free advertising wherever they drive.

So, if you are looking for a cheap way to advertise your business you can’t go far wrong with car window stickers.

car stickers

Picture: Marshall Segal

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