Shortage of premium carmakers as BMW, Audi and Mercedes go mainstream

Shortage of premium carmakers as BMW, Audi and Mercedes go mainstream

Shortage of premium carmakers as BMW, Audi and Mercedes go mainstream

Car valuations expert Glass’s has warned of a potential shortage of premium manufacturers as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi go mainstream.

The company says tempting finance and leasing deals are leading to increased sales of the conventional upmarket brands, leaving a vacuum for those who want a genuinely exclusive vehicle.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations, said: “This is not to say that the German prestige brands have lost all their cachet. This is not true. Their more exclusive models remain luxury choices but, while most of the vehicles they make are well built and desirable, cars like the Audi A1 and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer indicate that a large part of their aspirations very much lie with the volume market.

“A gap has therefore opened up in the market for new brands to enter that, so far, has not really been convincingly filled. These cars would have to have the same or a higher level of desirability as the established German brands but, crucially, be less common and perhaps a little less conservative in their approach.”

Glass’s suggests that Jaguar Land Rover remains an option for a buyer looking for something a little more exclusive – with sales still dwarfed by the German brands. While Jaguar will be hoping its XE sells in numbers similar to the BMW 3 Series, it’s still a relative head-turner compared to German rivals.

Could #dieselgate increase Lexus and Tesla sales?

Other contenders for those looking for something a little more exclusive include Tesla and Lexus – both of which could see increased interest following recent bad press for diesel cars. Tesla produces the electric-only Model S (with a range of up to 265 miles) and is set to launch its Model X SUV later this year, while Lexus favours hybrid powertrains.

Pontin added: “Tesla sits outside the mainstream motor industry and, so far, its cars are only available in small numbers but it does present an appealing proposition to people looking for something prestigious and different.”

Traditional mainstream manufacturers have also spotted a gap in the market for upmarket models, with Citroen launching its DS brand and Ford offering Vignale versions of a number of its cars.

Pontin said: “These are interesting developments, DS especially. It offers a substantially different proposition to anything else on the market. However, it is likely to remain strongly identified with its parent brand for the foreseeable future and will face the problem of most new premium brands in that it simply takes so long to build a genuine reputation. We are talking of a question of decades rather than months or years.”

Citroen recently told us as the Frankfurt Motor Show that it’s currently concentrating on establishing DS as a brand in its own right rather than chasing sales, while we found Ford’s Mondeo Vignale lacked the premium touch when we drove it earlier this year.

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RAC calls for more stringent lab tests following VW emissions scandal

RAC calls for more stringent lab tests following VW emissions scandal

Following the #dieselgate scandal, the RAC has said that more stringent lab tests are needed that truly replicate ‘real word’ driving.

But the motoring organisation insists that on-road tests on their own are not the answer as they are not repeatable or reliable enough to ensure reliable results.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “The test method needs to be more representative of real-world driving, with the caveat, of course, that it will never completely mirror a car being driven on a real road by different drivers.”

A new worldwide laboratory test – set to be introduced in Europe within the next two years – aims to address this by incorporating a wider range of vehicle operating conditions with four test modes of low, medium, high and extra high. This will account for urban, rural, motorway and autobahn environments in real-world driving terms.

Bizley added: “This is a positive step as vehicles are known to emit more nitrogen oxides at higher speeds, and under heavier loads, which current tests do not take sufficient account of. It is also important to note that this may lead to vehicles being found to emit greater quantities of nitrogen oxides than current test results indicate.

“What is needed to ensure production vehicles meet the standards is a robust protocol involving not just a laboratory test but also an on-road ‘conformity’ test which cannot easily be identified by the vehicle’s software. This way vehicles found to have drastically differing results would be automatically identified and investigated.”

By combining a lab test with an on-road test, the RAC says the difference between claimed MPG figures and true economy figures will be reduced.

More on the VW Group scandal on Motoring Research

Volkswagen logo

Volkswagen emissions scandal: new diesel info website to advise customers

Volkswagen logoVolkswagen of America has set up a website to advise customers of the ongoing diesel emissions scandal and keep them updated with the latest official news from VW Group.

The VW diesel info website is intended to be a one-stop information resource for U.S. customers who may be driving diesels featuring the emissions-cheating defeat device.

Fronted by a video message from Volkswagen of America chief Michael Horn (who admitted “we totally screwed up” as news of the scandal broke), VW has included a FAQ section, which it aims to update as more information becomes available.

“Are news reports of this “defeat device” true”, asks the first question: Volkswagen explains how emissions tests are run and then admits “regrettably VW violated these regulations.

“We take full responsibility – and deeply regret that this happened.”

More on the VW Group scandal on Motoring Research

Audi four rings

Audi: 2.1 million cars contain cheat code software

Audi four ringsAudi has said 2.1 million cars sold worldwide contain software with ‘defeat device’ coding intended to cheat US emissions tests.

More on #Dieselgate at Motoring Research

Reuters reports that the bulk of the cars – over 1.4 million – have been sold in Europe, although it is not clear if the defeat device software has any impact on official emissions outside the US.

Only 13,000 Audis sold in the US are affected.

The issue affects Euro 5 diesel engines featured across Audi’s model line – these include

  • A1
  • A3
  • A4
  • A5
  • A6
  • TT
  • Q3
  • Q5

The affected Audis are part of 11 million Volkswagen Group cars that feature so-called defeat device software. The ‘dieselgate’ saga has already forced CEO Martin Winterkorn to resign: new CEO Matthias Müller says he’ll “leave no stone unturned” in investigating the issue.

More on the VW Group scandal on Motoring Research

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Koenigsegg boss: potential 'bloodbath' as people rush to buy electric cars

Koenigsegg boss: potential ‘bloodbath’ as people rush to buy electric cars

Koenigsegg boss: potential 'bloodbath' as people rush to buy electric cars

Koenigsegg CEO, Christian von Koenigsegg, has suggested there could be a ‘bloodbath’ caused by people rushing to buy electric cars within the next 10 years.

As a part of a series of question-and-answer interviews, Koenigsegg said: “A few years ago I said that in 2020, in developed countries, there will be more electric cars sold than combustion engined cars. People thought I was crazy for saying that and there IS a big chance that I’ll be wrong, but let’s put it another way… I think that around that time, the cars offered on the market will be 70-90% combustion engined cars and 10-30% electric cars but people will be walking away from combustion cars in big numbers.”

The manufacturer revealed its new plug-in hybrid supercar, the Regera, at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

Koenigsegg continued: “There’ll be huge delivery times for electric because people will not want the old technology once they get used to the new. Sales of old technology will go down dramatically. Cars will also be autonomous by then and a family will only need one car because it’ll be picking up and delivering the family members and their stuff all day long.

“There will be a bloodbath, I think. And most of the cars sold by then will be electric. It might be 2020. It might be 2023 or 2027. It might be 30% or 40% instead of 50% but I do think it’s coming and it will only gather momentum when it does.”

The outspoken Koenigsegg boss went on to say that his company would continue to produce cars using conventional combustion engines, carving out its own niche for enthusiasts.

He added: “The electric car will be like a Casio and Seiko for the mass market: efficient, afforable, good. But some connoisseurs will want to have the mechanical complication, the engine scream, the hand built feel. The bespoke nature and uniqueness of a hand built combustion engine.

“It will also be allowed by governments because there will be reduced concern about a vehicle’s threat to the environment. These cars will run on CO2 neutral biofuel, be highly efficient and will be produced in miniscule numbers. Also, they will mostly be used on weekends for a track day or looking for winding road. So virtually zero environmental impact.”

Koenigsegg boss: potential 'bloodbath' as people rush to buy electric cars

Koenigsegg boss: potential 'bloodbath' as people rush to buy electric cars

Koenigsegg boss: potential 'bloodbath' as people rush to buy electric cars

Koenigsegg CEO, Christian von Koenigsegg, has suggested there could be a ‘bloodbath’ caused by people rushing to buy electric cars within the next 10 years.

As a part of a series of question-and-answer interviews, Koenigsegg said: “A few years ago I said that in 2020, in developed countries, there will be more electric cars sold than combustion engined cars. People thought I was crazy for saying that and there IS a big chance that I’ll be wrong, but let’s put it another way… I think that around that time, the cars offered on the market will be 70-90% combustion engined cars and 10-30% electric cars but people will be walking away from combustion cars in big numbers.”

The manufacturer revealed its new plug-in hybrid supercar, the Regera, at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

Koenigsegg continued: “There’ll be huge delivery times for electric because people will not want the old technology once they get used to the new. Sales of old technology will go down dramatically. Cars will also be autonomous by then and a family will only need one car because it’ll be picking up and delivering the family members and their stuff all day long.

“There will be a bloodbath, I think. And most of the cars sold by then will be electric. It might be 2020. It might be 2023 or 2027. It might be 30% or 40% instead of 50% but I do think it’s coming and it will only gather momentum when it does.”

The outspoken Koenigsegg boss went on to say that his company would continue to produce cars using conventional combustion engines, carving out its own niche for enthusiasts.

He added: “The electric car will be like a Casio and Seiko for the mass market: efficient, afforable, good. But some connoisseurs will want to have the mechanical complication, the engine scream, the hand built feel. The bespoke nature and uniqueness of a hand built combustion engine.

“It will also be allowed by governments because there will be reduced concern about a vehicle’s threat to the environment. These cars will run on CO2 neutral biofuel, be highly efficient and will be produced in miniscule numbers. Also, they will mostly be used on weekends for a track day or looking for winding road. So virtually zero environmental impact.”

Lotus F1

Renault signs Letter of Intent to buy Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1Renault Group has signed a letter of intent with the owner of the Lotus F1 Team to buy a controlling stake in the Grand Prix constructor.

The French carmaker has reached a deal with Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l, which is an affiliate of Genii Capital S.A.: this is the company that has been running the Lotus F1 team for the past few years.

Renault says it and Gravity “will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.”

It will mark Renault’s 2016 return as a full F1 constructor – and also extend its involvement in F1 to 38 years. This latter point may be significant: Renault is hoping to get enhanced income from F1 bosses through gaining ‘historic team’ status.

The Lotus F1 cars are currently powered by Mercedes-Benz engines: Renault’s takeover of the team will likely see this engine supply move to the British startup Manor F1 team.

New signs could snoop on drivers using their phones

New signs could snoop on drivers using their phones

New signs could snoop on drivers using their phones

New technology that detects when a driver is using their phone is being introduced in Sussex.

The ‘vehicle activated sign’ is triggered when a motorist approaches it while using their mobile phone. It then flashes, warning the driver to put their phone down.

But, unlike speed cameras, the sign won’t be capable of recording vehicle details, so it’s unlikely to lead to any prosecutions.

It’s been illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving in the UK since 2003. Many people continue to flout the ban, however, risking a fine of £100 and three points on their licence.

The new signs are being trialled in Sussex, where 1,800 drivers were caught using their phones while driving in 2014.

Funded by Sussex Safer Roads Partnership for use by Brighton and Hove City Council, the new technology is set to be rolled out across the county if the trial proves to be successful.

While the technology is unlikely to lead to prosecutions to begin with, it could result in speed camera-like devices cutting down on mobile phone use at the wheel in the future.

Smoking in cars with children banned from TODAY

92% of motorists don’t believe car smoking ban will be enforced

92% of motorists don't believe car smoking ban will be enforced

The majority of UK drivers don’t believe a new ban on smoking in vehicles containing children will be enforced when it comes in later this week.

The ban, which covers England and Wales from this Thursday (1 October), could see £50 fines dished out for anyone caught smoking in a car with passengers aged under 18.

7 new laws drivers need to know

But research by the RAC has found that, despite 90% of drivers being aware of the new law, many don’t believe police have sufficient man power to enforce it.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “It is worrying that nine in 10 motorists have concerns about the extent to which the new law is likely to be enforced. This is perhaps well-founded as traffic police officer numbers have fallen by nearly a quarter (23%) between 2010 and 2014 across forces in England and Wales, so it is hard to see how people flouting the law are going to be caught.

“The new ban joins a raft of other laws that have been introduced in recent years such as making it illegal to undertake or hog the middle lane of a motorway. But without sufficient enforcement there is a real danger that these laws will quickly be forgotten by a large proportion of the motoring population.”

The survey found that, despite most people being aware of the law, only half knew it was being introduced this week.

Smoking in cars with children banned from TODAY

92% of motorists don't believe car smoking ban will be enforced

92% of motorists don't believe car smoking ban will be enforced

The majority of UK drivers don’t believe a new ban on smoking in vehicles containing children will be enforced when it comes in later this week.

The ban, which covers England and Wales from this Thursday (1 October), could see £50 fines dished out for anyone caught smoking in a car with passengers aged under 18.

7 new laws drivers need to know

But research by the RAC has found that, despite 90% of drivers being aware of the new law, many don’t believe police have sufficient man power to enforce it.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “It is worrying that nine in 10 motorists have concerns about the extent to which the new law is likely to be enforced. This is perhaps well-founded as traffic police officer numbers have fallen by nearly a quarter (23%) between 2010 and 2014 across forces in England and Wales, so it is hard to see how people flouting the law are going to be caught.

“The new ban joins a raft of other laws that have been introduced in recent years such as making it illegal to undertake or hog the middle lane of a motorway. But without sufficient enforcement there is a real danger that these laws will quickly be forgotten by a large proportion of the motoring population.”

The survey found that, despite most people being aware of the law, only half knew it was being introduced this week.