Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Fiat Panda 100hp successor likely

Posted: 30 Oct 2012 01:00 AM PDT

A 105bhp, TwinAir-equipped Panda could be a replacement for the much-missed Panda 100hp

The third-generation Fiat Panda could spawn a TwinAir-powered successor to the cult Panda 100hp, Fiat engineering sources have revealed.

A 105bhp version of the 0.9-litre two-cylinder TwinAir engine will soon be launched in the Fiat 500L, and sources have revealed the engine could make it into the new Panda line-up to create a warm hatch version.

Should the Panda get the 105bhp TwinAir, sources say there is scope for tweaking the suspension for a more sporting drive. A series of sporty exterior and interior changes are also expected to be included in the new model.

Rolls-Royce Ghost upgraded for 2013

Posted: 29 Oct 2012 09:33 AM PDT

Ghost will receive subtle enhancements for next year

Rolls-Royce has announced that the Ghost will be upgraded next year, with revisions to the in-car entertainment and comfort.

The new Ghost will feature an advanced amplifier and the addition of 'exciter' speakers to the audio system, as well as natural grain leather and cross-banded wood veneers.

On the exterior an additional alloy wheel option is available, alongside a Comfort Access boot – opened by foot, which activates a sensor under the rear bumper, should both hands be full.

Production of the 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost will start later this year.

Dan Cogger

British buyers must wait for diesel M5

Posted: 29 Oct 2012 09:00 AM PDT

The tri-turbo 3.0-litre diesel BMW M550d will be denied to British buyers until the next-gen 5-series is introduced

A diesel BMW 'M5' will not be offered to British buyers until the next-generation 5-series is launched in about three years' time.

BMW sources have revealed to Autocar that while the 376bhp, 546lb ft 3.0-litre tri-turbo diesel engine is now offered in the M550d in left-hand drive markets, it can only be mated to all-wheel drive running gear. The current 5-series platform cannot be engineered with all-wheel drive in right-hand-drive form. 

However, the next-generation 5-series will be offered in right-hand drive with four-wheel drive, raising the likelihood of the first diesel car to wear the iconic M badge. 

The platform, currently under development, will also underpin the next 6-series and 7-series. It is expected that the tri-turbo engine will be fitted in both models.

Tax just isn’t taxing enough

Posted: 29 Oct 2012 08:50 AM PDT

It will be difficult for the government to resist the new proposal for a two-tier road tax system

This weekend's reports about a new two-tier VED system – where you would have to buy a more expensive tax disc to drive on the motorway network – should come as no surprise. Plans to toll the UK motorways go back to the mid-1990s when intensive work on the idea of tolling the busiest motorways in the busiest commuter zones started.

The reality is that it doesn't matter what shade of Government we elect, the Treasury will continue to pursue ways of extracting enough tax from us to keep the great State machine rolling. As Jean-Baptiste Colbert (treasurer to the Court of Louis XIV in the 17th century) is supposed to have said, the art of successful taxation is like plucking geese and obtaining the maximum number of feathers with the minimum amount of hissing.

Of course the policy wonks in the Treasury are not as clever as they should be. Tasked with keeping the tax rolling in, they completely bought the idea of incentivising motorists to buy more fuel-efficient cars, piling the taxes on so-called gas guzzlers.

But the combination of ever-higher fuel taxes, the recession and much more frugal cars means the Treasury is seriously out of pocket. Between April and June this year, around 500m fewer litres of petrol were sold in the UK, compared to a year earlier. Edmund King of the RAC says that 2.27 billion fewer litres of fuel were sold in the first half of 2012, compared with the first six months of 2008.

By now, the Treasury was hoping that road tolling would have taken hold. The cack-handed London Congestion Charge put paid to that idea, making just 25p profit from the original £5 daily fee and handing out millions in fines because drivers couldn't set up pre-pay accounts. Votes on introducing a C-Charge in Edinburgh and an even bigger scheme across Greater Manchester were lost heavily. Indeed, the M6 Toll remains underused and the profits barely pay the interest on the loan used by the private operator to buy it.

Private toll roads in Australia are going into receivership as hard-pressed drivers vote with their tyres and refuse to pay. Further into the future, fewer young people have driving licences and the miles driven for the purposes of 'socialising' are dropping dramatically. This, and the rise of a real-world 65mpg for many new cars, means the Treasury's automotive goose is, if not cooked, increasingly bald.

Which is why this weekend's wheeze – not endorsed by the Coalition as yet – of a separate, more expensive, tax disc for motorway access, is so clever. Most motorway driving is business miles and business drivers do not have time to schlep cross-country, so they are a captive audience.

Our natural urge to avoid a one-off toll fee is, instead, submerged in a yearly charge. Even better, the rural areas hit hard by rising fuel taxes don't have motorways, so locals won't need the more expensive tax disc. If, say, half the 31 million vehicles on UK roads, paid an extra £150 per year would raise an extra £4.5bn per year, allowing non-motorway tax discs to be reduced in price by £50 per year and the Treasury would still be £3bn ahead. And the technical infrastructure needed would be limited to ANPR cameras on the slip roads.

With the Treasury's haul of motoring taxes looking seriously at risk, and half the motoring population hissing a little less, I can't see how the Whitehall mandarins will fail to get Ministers to rubber stamp this plan. 

Dacia Duster orders start strong

Posted: 29 Oct 2012 05:58 AM PDT

UK orders for the new Dacia Duster have risen to over 1000

Dacia has announced that orders for the new Duster SUV have breached 1000.

The Renault sub-division has taken the orders in just over the 100 days since pre-ordering opened and show significant demand across the UK, says Dacia.

Starting at £8,995, the Duster SUV is cheaper than most rival companies' superminis, and adds only a £3,000 premium to Dacia's entry-level car in its model range — the Sandero; named Britain's cheapest car.

Dacia commented that a sixth of the orders placed are for the base Access model. The majority of orders that have been made are for the 4x4, Ambiance and LaurĂ©ate versions, costing from £10,995, £11,995 and £12,995 respectively.

Dacia has taken over 20,000 orders for the Duster in India, where the SUV is built, and is offering a refundable £100 deposit for all UK Duster orders.

Dan Cogger

Why Britain's car industry is booming

Posted: 29 Oct 2012 04:05 AM PDT

Nothing like a factory closure to rev-up car industry doom mongers in the mainstream media

The day after Ford announced the closure of its Transit factory in Southampton, one of the UK's most respected media outlets boldly proclaimed the decision had put the skids on British car making. Unpalatable though the Southampton news is, particularly to the workers with uncertain futures, in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

Car-making in the UK is actually going through a golden period characterised by an unprecedented flow of investment recently estimated by consultants KPMG at £6billion. Repeat that - six billion pounds.

Here's a rundown so far: Land Rover £370m for Range Rover, JLR £355m new engine plant, Mini £500m Roadster/CoupĂ©, BMW £250m engine plant, Honda £267m engine plant/new models, Nissan £420m Leaf and battery plant, Toyota £100m new Auris, Vauxhall £125m new Astra, the list goes on.

That is one heck of a roll of honour and I wonder whether any other industry - particularly one that gets political kickings on a regular basis - is keeping UK plc ticking over to the same degree in the worst recession since the 1920s?

The same consultants reckon that business worth £3billion is now on the table for suppliers able to make the right components to the right quality.

And as any expert knows, the number of jobs in the supply sector far outweighs the number in assembly plants.

The other killer stat about UK car making is that overall car production is heading towards 1.95m units by 2015/16 thanks to year-on-year growth of nine per cent.

That number is significant because it marks the high-watermark of the country's car industry reached in 1972 when the dreaded British Leyland was pumping out models badged Austin, Morris, Jaguar, Rover, Triumph etc.

So remember those stats when you next read someone talking down the UK car industry. It just isn't true.

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