Cars could be BANNED from London's Oxford Street by 2018

Cars could be BANNED from London’s Oxford Street by 2018

Cars could be BANNED from London's Oxford Street by 2018

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced controversial plans to ban cars from Oxford Street in a bid to turn the area into “the world’s best outdoor shopping experience”.

It’s the latest in a series of anti-car proposals raised by the Mayor in a bid to reduce toxic emissions in the capital. The plans – which are open to public consultation until 17 December 2017 – follow similar examples in cities such as Paris and New York.

As part of the work, the carriageway would be raised, making it level with the existing pavements. Extra seating would be placed along the street while an 800m-long piece of art could be commissioned as a centre piece for the street. New and extended taxi ranks would be created close to Oxford Street to allow Black Cabs to continue to pick up and drop off.

“Oxford Street is world famous with millions of visitors every year, and in just over a year the iconic part of the street west of Oxford Circus could be transformed into a traffic-free pedestrian boulevard,” said Khan.

“Whether you’re a local resident, a business, or shop in some of the area’s famous stores, our plans will make the area substantially cleaner and safer for everyone, creating one of the finest public spaces in the world.”

If the plans get the go-ahead, they’ll be introduced to coincide with the new Elizabeth Crossrail Line set to bring more people to the area from December 2018.

Khan added: “Alongside the arrival of the Elizabeth Line, the Oxford Street area will be truly transformed over the coming years. We will continue to work closely with residents, businesses and Westminster Council to ensure the plans are the very best they can be, including investing in wider pavements, pedestrian crossings, more taxi ranks and further high-quality cycling infrastructure to support everyone living and working in the wider area.”

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Ford Fiesta

British car sales fall for seventh month running

Ford FiestaThe slump in Britain’s new car market continued in October with registrations down 12.2 percent year-on-year, according to latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

The decline in diesel car sales was even more stark: they were down nearly 30 percent, due to ongoing concerns over emissions and the threat of anti-diesel car charging schemes. 

Diesel took less than a 40 percent share of new car sales in October; in 2016, its share was nearly 50 percent.  

Registrations of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), in contrast, grew 36.9 percent, to over 8,200 units. AFVs, which include electric cars and plug-in hybrids, took a 5.2 percent market share in October 2017.

The SMMT has blamed a decline in both consumer and business confidence, and called upon the government to restore market stability in this month’s autumn budget. 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said the lack of confidence “is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesel. Consumers need urgent reassurance that the latest, low emission diesel cars on sale will not face any bans, charges or other restrictions, anywhere in the UK.

“We urge the Government to use the forthcoming Autumn Budget to restore stability to the market, encouraging the purchase of the latest low emission vehicles as fleet renewal is the fastest and most effective way of addressing air quality concerns.”

Year to date, the UK new car market is down 4.6 percent, which the SMMT says is in line with its recent revised forecast of a 4.7 percent fall in new car sales. It is expected 2.565 million new cars will be sold in Britain in 2017; so far, 2.224 million new cars have been registered. 

Business car sales were down a substantial 26.8 percent in October, although the sector’s overall share was a relatively small 2.7 percent. More significant was a 13 percent fall in fleet car sales; fleet and business sales combined take more than 55 percent of the new car market. Private sales were hit too though, down by more than 10 percent. 

It was at least good news for Ford, though: the Fiesta at last returned to the top spot in registrations, after the lengthy roll-out of the all-new model. It means the Fiesta’s position as the UK’s best-selling car year-to-date should be secure. 

The UK-built Nissan Qashqai dropped to fourth place, and other surprises include the Kia Sportage in sixth place, the outgoing Volkswagen Polo still taking eighth place and the BMW 4 Series coupe range outselling the BMW 3 Series saloon range. 

UK top 10 best selling cars – October 2017

1 Ford Fiesta

2 Volkswagen Golf

3 Ford Focus

4 Nissan Qashqai

5 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

6 Kia Sportage

7 Audi A3

8 Volkswagen Polo

9 BMW 4 Series

10 Ford Kuga

The RAC attends 940 punctures every day – now it's done something about it

The RAC attends 940 punctures every day – now it’s done something about it

The RAC attends 940 punctures every day – now it's done something about it

With punctures the biggest cause of call outs for the RAC, the organisation has launched a new online tyre service offering free next-day fitting.

The motoring organisation says punctures are responsible for around 14 percent of its call outs, with patrols attending 940 every day.

“Tyres are the most fundamental safety any car providing traction, or grip, for braking, acceleration and helping to maintain steering directional control,” said an RAC spokesperson. “They also support the weight and balance of the vehicle and act as dampers or shock absorbers helping to smooth out vibrations and jolts from the road surface. So your existing and choosing the best option when they need replacing are likely to be the most important decisions motorists make when it comes to vehicle maintenance.”

The RAC’s new online service will allow customers to enter their postcode and registration number to find a wide range of tyres from budget to premium. The prices will include fitting at a choice of nearby RAC-approved garages.

RAC Tyres business manager Claire Rose said: “We have developed a no-nonsense online solution to help motorists choose the right replacement for their car and their driving needs and a simple next day booking process to suit them at a reputable garage It’s fuss-free, backed by the trusted RAC brand.”

RAC Tyres is not the first online tyre service. is a similar setup, while even Asda sells tyres online.

“Our prices are very competitive and we also use our buying power to negotiate with the biggest names in rubber to ensure that we always have a great selection of deals and offers for customers,” added Rose.

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Audi piloted driving

Car insurers define what is an automated car

Audi piloted drivingAlthough automated and driverless cars are coming, there’s worryingly little agreement on exactly what a car should be able to do in order to be called ‘automated’. The UK car insurance industry is to now help car manufacturers by outlining its own minimum criteria for automated systems. 

Thatcham Research has drawn up a list of 10 key features any truly automated vehicle should possess – because its director of research Matthew Avery believes “it is crucial that there is a clear definition of what constitutes an automated vehicle”.

There is, believes Avery, currently a risk of a dangerous grey area around semi-automated vehicles. “There is the potential for confusion,” added Ben Howarth of the Association of British Insurers. 

“People could wrongly think their vehicles can be left alone to manage a journey independently. Insurers want to see manufacturers being absolutely clear about how they describe what their vehicles can do.”

The new criteria, it is hoped, will be used by the car insurance industry, as well as car makers and government, to accurately define what is and isn’t safe use of an automated car.

Crucially, the criteria thus defines what is not an automated vehicle. “A system that needs the driver to control or monitor the vehicle in any way cannot be classified as automated.” By this measure, no system currently offered in the UK can be considered automated.

Hence the 10-point checklist of key features and performance criteria any truly automated vehicle should possess:  

  1. Naming: clearly describes automated capability
  2. Law abiding: complies with UK traffic laws and the Highway Code
  3. Location specific: functionality is limited to specific types of roads via ‘geo-fencing’
  4. Clear handover: there’s an easy ‘offer and confirm’ process for transferring driving control
  5. Safe driving: vehicle can manage all reasonably expected situations by itself
  6. Unanticipated handover: sufficient notice must be given if the vehicle needs to unexpected hand back driving control
  7. Safe stop: vehicle should stop safely if unable to continue or the driver does not take back control
  8. Emergency intervention: vehicles can avoid an accident by responding to an emergency
  9. Back-up systems: there are safeguards if any systems fail
  10. Accident data: full recording and reporting of what systems were in use in case of an accident

Thatcham hopes the new criteria will be used as part of the government’s ongoing Automated and Electric Vehicle Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament. This is intended to enable consumers in the UK to be amongst the first in the world to reap the rewards that improved transport technology will bring.

“The Bill will set the regulatory framework to enable the next wave of transport technology to be invented, designed, made and used in the UK.”

Included, it is hoped, exactly what is a truly automated and driverless car.

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Ferrari on track to make a billion – but it's not all good news

Ferrari on track to make a billion – but it’s not all good news

Ferrari on track to make a billion – but it's not all good news

Ferrari is set to make a record €1 billion (£891 million) operating profit this year – two years ahead of the target set by Sergio Marchionne when he took over as chief executive in 2014.

But shares in the Italian supercar manufacturer have dropped, as analysts say the adjusted profits, which are frequently considered the best indication of true profitability, have only just hit estimates.

The quarterly adjusted profits, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, mark a 14 percent increase from the 2016 figure – less than the 24 percent rise reported for nine-month earnings.

These results have disappointed analysts and can partly be attributed to Ferrari’s failure to top the rankings in this season’s Formula One. In a conference call on Thursday, Marchionne said he is considering pulling out of F1 in 2021 – and doing so would be a good thing for shareholders.

“It would be totally beneficial to the P&L [profits and losses],” he said. “We would be celebrating here until the cows come home.”

It comes after new regulations proposed by the sport’s new owners, Liberty Media, were announced. The controversial reforms, including strict new engine rules, could be brought in from 2021.

Marchionne added that he would feel “like a million bucks” being the boss who took Ferrari out of F1.

Ferrari has sold 6,381 cars so far in 2017 – a five percent increase on the same period in 2016. The firm revealed its racetrack-only FXX K Evo hypercar this week, and speculation around new models, including a Ferrari SUV, continues. Marchionne said last month that the firm is “dead serious” about building an SUV, but it won’t arrive until 2020 at the earliest.

Describing the SUV as a “fun utility vehicle”, the Ferrari chief said it would be a proper Ferrari – and definitely not a rebadged or re-engineered vehicle from another brand.

Ferrari split from parent brand Fiat Chrysler in 2016, which led to FCA shares plummeting by a third.

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Are these Britain's best classic cars?

Are these Britain’s best classic cars?

Are these Britain's best classic cars?

It’s a strange competition that sees a 1978 Morris Marina square up against a 1972 Porsche 914 and 1936 Chevrolet Half Ton Pick Up – yet, happily, that’s exactly what’s happening at this year’s NEC Classic Car Show.

The biannual Pride of Ownership competition is held at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show in March and the NEC Classic Motor Show in November. The 20 finalists for this year’s NEC Classic Motor Show have been announced, with highlights including a former police Daimler Dart SP250 from 1961 and a 1979 Citroen CX 2400 GTi barn find.

A finalists will be displayed at the show, with visitors speaking to the owners and voting for their favourites over the weekend. The winner will be announced close to the end of the show on the Sunday afternoon.

The competition is held by Lancaster Insurance, with previous winners including a lovingly-restored 1989 Austin Metro City and a 1972 Triumph Spitfire. Any classic car made before 2000 can enter the competition, and those with an interesting story have the best chance of making the final.

“Year on year, the calibre of cars in the Pride of Ownership is always outstanding and it’s fantastic to once again see such a varied line-up on display. We can’t wait for the show and to see the beauties in all their glory,” said Lancaster Insurance’s senior operations manager, Andrew Evanson.

2017 Pride of Ownership: the shortlist

  • 1979 Citroen CX 2400 GTi, owned by Neil Osborn
  • 1961 Daimler Dart SP250, owned by Jonathan Smith
  • 1959 Ford Cortina Savage Mk2, owned by Rob Sargent
  • 1973 Ford Cortina 2.0 GT, owned by Mark Rogers
  • 1978 Morris Marina 1.8 Special Saloon, owned by Trevor & Brian Ford
  • 1965 K-code Mustang Fastback, owned by Gareth Jones
  • 1970 Dodge Charger, owned by Craig Marsden
  • 1936 Chevrolet Half Ton Pick Up, owned by Justin & Sally Ann Woolner
  • 1941 Willys Coupe, owned by Andy Crockett
  • 1972 Porsche 914, owned by Paul Hibbert
  • 1998 BMW E36 M3 Evolution, owned by Gerald McWhinnie
  • 1968 Sunbeam Stiletto, owned by Ian Thompson
  • 1959 MGA 1600 Mk1, owned by Dominic Taylor-Lane
  • 1959 Hillman Minx, owned by John Georgiou
  • 1983 Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk1, owned by Simon McNamara
  • 1985 Toyota Corolla GTi, owned by Mark and Paul Hart
  • 1989 Austin Mini Thirty, owned by Brenda Roberts
  • 1990 Fiat X1/9 Gran Finale, owned by Claire Lee
  • 1967 Fiat 500F, owned by Stefan Graichen
  • 1964 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Coupe, owned by Ronald Parry

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NEXT: Video – warehouse crammed with classic Fords

Fuel pump

Petrol is getting cheaper – but it won’t last

Fuel pumpPetrol prices fell in October 2017 but RAC Fuel Watch warns that cheaper forecourt prices are set to be a blip due to recent increases in the cost of oil.

While the price of unleaded fell by 0.7p in October, to an average of 118.1p a litre of petrol (114.8p at supermarkets), the price of a barrel of oil rose 9 percent. It is now above $60 a barrel for the first time in over two years.

Already, says RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams, the wholesale cost of oil has gone up in November. “Inevitably, this increase will be passed on to motorists on the forecourt far more quickly than the cuts were made last month.”

This sounds unfair but it “is unfortunately the nature of ‘big’ fuel retailing: pass on wholesale rises quickly and cling on to savings for as long as possible”.

The only possible escape from more expensive petrol could come courtesy of the US. “Motorists may yet be spared from large pump prices if the United States takes advantage of the higher oil price to bring more fracking rigs online as this will bring more product on to the market, no doubt easing the barrel price.”

Even so, he added, the cheap fuel we enjoyed at the start of 2016 does not seem set for a comeback. What’s more, revealed the RAC data, it’s only petrol prices that fell in October: diesel actually rose in price by 0.6p a litre, taking it up to 120.8p (or 117.7p at the big four supermarkets).

That’s the fourth monthly diesel increase in a row.

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Subaru WRX STi Final Edition

This is your last chance to buy a new Subaru WRX STi in the UK

Subaru WRX STi Final Edition

Subaru has revealed a limited-run special edition WRX STi as it announces that the legendary super saloon will soon be no more in the UK.

The WRX STi, previously known as the Impreza WRX STi, can trace its roots back nearly 25 years. It’s the car that Colin McRae made famous, and one of the first affordable performance cars on the market.

But, as hot hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf R get ever more competent, versatile and affordable, the WRX STi has been living on borrowed time. It’s no surprise, then, that Subaru is wielding the axe on its legendary flagship model. Unfortunately.

If you want to get your hands on a brand new WRX STi while you still can, get your order in for Final Edition as soon as you can. Subaru’s taking orders now, with just 150 available and prices starting at £33,995.

This isn’t a half-hearted special edition. While the standard 300hp 2.5-litre turbocharged flat-four remains, the WRX STi now boasts 19-inch alloys. This isn’t just for aesthetics – they house bigger Brembo brakes with yellow calipers, offering better fade-resistance and performance when driving on the limit, says Subaru.

A multi-mode driver’s control centre differential, meanwhile, shuffles power around to provide maximum traction at all times.

The front bumper has been redesigned with a more aggressive look, while the grille has been enlarged to aid cooling.

Red stitching and seatbelts along with glossy black inserts brighten up the interior, while heated front seats add a touch of comfort. There’s also a larger 5.9-inch infotainment screen at the top of the dash, incorporating DAB radio and a reversing camera (just in case you can’t see over the large rear wing).

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