New Bus for London

‘Boris Bus’ maker goes bust: 1,400 jobs at risk

New Bus for London

The maker of London’s New Routemaster ‘Boris Bus’ has gone into administration, report unions, after a downturn in the market caused losses to spiral.

Wrightbus, based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, is one of the region’s largest employers, with 1,400 staff. It is the last UK-owned bus manufacturer. 

The firm is well known as the producer of the New Routemaster, which was launched in 2012 after being championed by Boris Johnson, who was then London Mayor. This earned the machine its ‘Boris Bus’ nickname.

New Bus for London

Johnson’s successor as London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, cancelled further orders of the New Routemaster in 2016.

Wrightbus was founded in 1946, initially producing trucks. Recently, it has innovated in future fuel and, in May 2019, received an order from Transport for London (TfL) for 20 hydrogen fuel-cell double-decker buses. Each cost £500,000.

Breaking news – more soon

Katie Price sells pink cars because they ‘get her into trouble’

Katie price selling pink cars

Reality TV star Katie Price will sell her fleet of pink cars because they ‘get her into trouble’. The former glamour model revealed her plans in a recent radio interview. 

We previously reported that Katie Price’s pink Suzuki Vitara was for sale online, although the listing has since been removed. Now she is getting more serious about shrinking her fleet.

In 2003, at the height of her fame, she admitted to Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear that she was ordering a pink Aston Martin DB9. His riposte was that it would be worth ‘four or five pounds’ when she came to sell it. 

Katie price selling pink cars

Price has been in quite a bit of trouble where cars are concerned of late. Whether that’s the fault of the driver, or the pink colour she describes as an ‘omen’, is another matter.

She was given a three-month driving ban in February 2019 after being convicted of drink-driving. Her blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit while behind the wheel of her pink Range Rover.

The vehicle was found crashed in a bush following a birthday party, although Price claimed someone else was driving.

Katie price selling pink cars

Katie Price has previously been summoned to court for driving while disqualified and uninsured, too. She was spotted in a Ford Fiesta (colour unknown), and claimed to believe the ban had been lifted. Even her lawyer, Paul Macauley, said she is ‘not the best at paperwork’.

She couldn’t afford the fine she received along with the disqualification, so was given 14 days grace by the court to pay.

Her pink Range Rover has even been seized by bailiffs in the past due to unpaid fines.

Cloned cars

How to avoid buying a cloned car

Cloned cars

Car cloning is the vehicular equivalent of identity theft. It involves criminals stealing a car and giving it a new identity copied from a similar make and model vehicle already on the road.

Criminals disguise the 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the stolen car and use a stolen V5/logbook to legitimise its identity.

HPI – a company specialising in vehicle history checks – is urging consumers to be aware of these scams, and has put together advice on how to avoid buying a cloned car. 

You can lower the risk of buying a cloned vehicle by following HPI’s simple four-step guide:

1. Provenance and history

Always check the provenance/history of the car, and make sure you view it at the registered keeper’s address (as shown on the V5/logbook).

Buyers should ensure all the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle match each other and then use the HPI Check to ensure they tally with the details as recorded with the DVLA.

2. Market value

Know the car’s market value. If you are paying less than 70 percent of the market price for a vehicle, then be on your guard. No seller will want to lose money on their sale. There is rarely such a thing as a bargain, especially if the car later turns out to be a clone.

3. Don’t pay with cash

Don’t pay with cash, particularly if the car is costing you more than £3,000. Some cloners will take a banker’s draft as part-payment, because the cash part is sufficient profit without ever cashing the bankers’ draft.

Most crooks selling cloned cars would rather walk away from a sale than take a payment that could be traced back to them.

4. Check the V5/logbook

Check the vehicle’s V5/logbook. Stolen V5 documents are still being used to accompany cloned vehicles. 

Is the vehicle advertised saying the owner has mislaid or lost the V5 form? Then buyer beware! This is a red light you should check very, very carefully… 

Thief

Neil Hodson, deputy managing director of HPI, said: “It’s not just premium cars that are at risk from cloning. Every used car buyer needs to be aware of the very real threat of cloning.

“Anyone who buys a clone stands to lose the car and their money, if it’s revealed to be stolen and returned to the rightful owner by the police.”

Range figures for electric cars need ‘urgent rethink’

Range figures of electric cars need an ‘urgent rethink’So-called ‘range anxiety’ remains foremost in the minds of many electric car buyers. To help, engineering and testing consultancy Horiba Mira reckons an overhaul of how range is calculated is urgently needed, with more realistic figures the intended goal.

“Increasing the number of people willing to switch to EVs will largely depend on a positive change in customer perceptions; particularly in tackling ‘range anxiety’,” said Ben Gale of Horiba Mira. 

“It is therefore imperative that government and EV manufacturers respond accordingly, to accelerate EV adoption.”

Range figures of electric cars need an ‘urgent rethink’

A report by the company says conventional ways of testing how far a charged EV will travel need to be reviewed. At the moment, a car that is claimed to have a 300-mile range might manage 250 miles in the ‘real world’. 

Horiba Mira considers current testing conditions to be unrealistic. Temperature, driving style, the type of journey and other factors all have a dramatic effect on range. Jaguar has recognised this with its online tool for I-Pace owners, which helps estimate range in varying conditions.

Range figures of electric cars need an ‘urgent rethink’

“At present, the use of insufficient range data in real-world conditions is playing a part in fuelling range anxiety, putting many motorists off making the switch to EVs,” Ben added.

“Globally, vehicles are tested at just one temperature – one that is considered the ‘optimum’ for vehicle comfort and lithium-ion batteries – but when you add in air conditioning or heating requirements, additional battery power is required, depleting the published range of an EV at an alarming rate.”

Heathrow Airport is getting a congestion charge

Heathrow Airport congestion charge

A new penalty system for drivers will be introduced at Heathrow Airport to coincide with the opening of the third runway in 2026. This, to an end of getting its third runway operating at capacity, without adding any cars to the road.

The charge is expected to yield around £1.2 billion a year. That’s if the expected 65,000 vehicles a day pay the predicted £50 daily charge (accounting for inflation) by 2040.

The charge is to be levied on all cars, from hulking gas guzzlers to whisper-quiet electric cars – Heathrow’s congestion charge will not discriminate. The aim is to incentivise the use of public transport by those wanting to fly from Heathrow. 

Thus the amount of Heathrow-related traffic will remain the same at the very least, or decrease. It expects 55 percent of passengers will use public transport to get to the airport by 2050. This, by comparison to the 40 percent that did so in 2015.

Can Heathrow’s public transport links cope?

Heathrow Airport congestion charge

There are worries, however, that public transport links would not be able to cope as drivers try to escape charges. Even without the extra 756,000 flights per year that the new runway will allow.

A new east-west Crossrail line is planned, along with an upgrade of the Tube’s Piccadilly Line and improved bus services, to handle to extra passenger volume. 

In addition, Heathrow Southern Railway is pitching to build an eight-mile link from Waterloo. There are also plans to increase train infrastructure between Reading and Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport congestion charge

Given that the two lines are to be confirmed, with a decision ‘yet to be made’ by the Heathrow consultation, speculation is rife on whether the current infrastructure will cope.

For the moment, then, travellers could be faced with little choice than to drive and swallow the charges. Heathrow Southern Railway warns that “this will cause resentment as there will be no practicable way for people in this area of the country to avoid the charge”.

Parking profiteers: the councils making millions from parking fines

Parking profiteers: councils make millions from parking fines

A freedom of information (FOI) request has revealed exactly what local authorities make out of parking tickets, as well as how many fines are issued.

Here, we reveal the councils that are making the most money from your parking tickets.

The £5 million parking profit club

The FOI data found that Leeds, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham lead the country in terms of parking ticket revenue for the most recent financial year, outside of London at least. 

Each earns over £5 million in the process of fining those parking where they shouldn’t, or for longer than they should.

Parking profiteers: councils make millions from parking fines

Leeds leads, with a £6.17 million take, while Edinburgh isn’t far behind on £5.9 million. Manchester and Glasgow make £5.3 million and £5 million respectively. Birmingham just misses out on membership, taking £4.915 million, to be exact.

Overall, 24 of the listed areas earned comfortably over £1 million in parking fines. The top 10 earned a minimum of £2.5 million, each.

Which city makes the least from parking fines? It’s lowly Derby, making ‘just’ £844,907 in the most recent financial year.

Dishing out the fines

Parking profiteers: councils make millions from parking fines

In terms of the number of fines, it stands to reason that those in the top five for revenue would have to work for their take. All but leader Leeds feature, with Manchester in the lead having given out 545,314 fines. Leeds actually made its £6.1 million dishing out one fourth of the fines in Manchester.

Nottingham joins at the bottom of the top five, with 137,623 fines dished out. Bottom overall is Bolton, issuing just 27,787 parking fines. That’s around 5,000 fewer fines than the loser in terms of profit, Derby. In spite of this, Bolton made £1.2 million in the last financial year from parking fines. A ticket must be expensive in Bolton…

  1. Manchester – 545,314 fines
  2. Edinburgh – 191,563 fines
  3. Glasgow – 147,945 fines
  4. Birmingham – 141,687 fines
  5. Nottingham – 137,623 fines

The freedom of information request was submitted by CompareTheMarket.

Uber London licence extended by two months

Uber London licence extended 2019

Ride-hailing service Uber has had its London licence extended for a further two months. Its existing 15-month extension expires tomorrow (Wednesday 25 September).

Transport for London (TfL) suspended Uber’s licence in 2017 due to safety concerns. A judge then granted the company the 15-month extension. That’s now been upped by a further two months while TfL gets further information on the company.

“Uber London Limited has been granted a two-month private hire operator licence to allow for scrutiny of additional information that we are requesting ahead of consideration of any potential further licensing application,” said TfL in a statement.

The Green Party’s Caroline Russell came out in support of scrutiny of the company, but criticised the uncertainty the situation is causing drivers.

“I welcome keeping pressure on Uber to be a fit and proper private hire operator, but drivers will be concerned for their future,” she said.

“The Mayor, and Government, must act decisively across the private hire and ‘gig economy’ to stop the exploitation of drivers, including bringing in a cap on numbers of vehicles licenced.”

Uber London licence extended 2019

The second extension isn’t without its conditions, though. Uber must meet new rules on passenger safety. Its licence renewal was rejected on safety grounds in 2017, in relation to insufficient background checks and driver vetting. Uber insists that it has made notable strides towards compliance.

“Over the past two years, we’ve launched a range of new safety features in the app, introduced better protections for drivers and our clean air plan is helping to tackle air pollution,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe.

“[Uber will] continue to work closely with TfL and provide any additional requested information.”

Uber driver union criticises extension

Uber London licence extended 2019

The GMB union, representing Uber drivers, fears that Transport for London has put off decisive action. It says TfL has dragged out uncertainty and danger for drivers and passengers.

“Transport for London has simply kicked the can down the road and shown no regard for drivers or public safety,” claims regional officer for the GMB union Steve Garelick.

Around 45,000 drivers work for Uber in London – if the licence isn’t granted, that’s a lot of people out of work. London’s black cab contingent meanwhile will be rooting against the ride-hailing app. The cabbie community has been very critical of Uber’s practices, slating its lack of conformity with the rules with which all cabbies must.

Not least, too, because Uber has knocked the wind out of the black cab business with cheaper prices and one-click availability.

Labour’s ‘green industrial revolution’ – interest-free electric cars and more

Labour's 'green industrial revolution'

Labour has announced plans for a ‘green industrial revolution’ with an enormous focus on automotive.

If elected, Labour will introduce interest-free loans for prospective electric car buyers and billions of pounds worth of charging points to support them.

On top of that, it wants to team up with car manufacturers to build battery ‘gigafactories’. Finally, to power it all, it wants to commit a massive investment for a fleet of wind turbines at sea.

The long and the short? More electric cars, more places to charge them, cheaper batteries and renewable power to keep them going. From the top…

Labour’s £60bn interest-free loans on electric cars

Labour's 'green industrial revolution'

Labour wants two thirds of cars on sale to be electric by 2030. To support the necessary growth in popularity, it wants to offer 2.5 million prospective buyers of electric cars interest-free loans of up to £33,000. That’s a total investment of up to £60 billion during its first parliamentary term.

These loans would be for low-income households, small businesses and sole traders specifically. In theory, they would get the last people that would ordinarily have the capacity to make the change, to the front of the queue.

The scheme would come with a caveat for those taking advantage of the scheme. They’re to take a more active part in Britain’s ‘green industrial revolution’ beyond buying the car – owners will be required to take part in a mass trial of Vehicle-2-Grid technology. 

Labour's 'green industrial revolution'

It allows electric cars to effectively be a part of the grid, when they’re plugged in, storing excess energy. This, to an end of smoothing supply from renewable sources. It would ease the mass requirement for power banks, at least in the short term.

Roughly £3.5 billion would be lost in interest profits. However, a would-be Labour government reckons it will save, at least in part, on easing a steep immediate requirement for behind-the-scenes infrastructure. Funding for the loans would come from a £250 billion ‘national transformation fund’.

£3.6billion on charging points

Labour's 'green industrial revolution'

With 2.5 million electric cars set to hit the road, Labour will need a charging infrastructure that can support them. It plans to invest £3.6 billion in the rollout of rapid-charging stations, with the ability to support the anticipated 21 million electrified car population on the road by the end of the next decade. 

The investment would create 3,000 skilled jobs for electricians and engineers, and the result would be an answer to the question of infrastructure that’s supposedly stopping so many from making the change.

£5.8billion investment in electric cars and ‘gigafactories’

Labour's 'green industrial revolution'

The shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey revealed Labour’s intention to invest £5.8 billion in the motor industry to assist an acceleration in the development and production of electric cars. How? State-controlled ‘gigafactories’ and metal reprocessing plants, and a stake in the manufacturers of electric cars.

Around £3 billion of the above figure would go toward assisting the development of new models and technology. In return, Labour wants shares in the business.

“If we want our automotive sector to flourish, we need a government that is not afraid to intervene,” and intervene it plans to. Long-Bailey cites France as an example with its 13 percent stake in the home-based Peugeot Citroen PSA group.

Labour's 'green industrial revolution'

Around £2.3 billion is to go towards the so-called ‘gigafactories’, with the government owning a 51 percent stake in each one. They would create 3,000 jobs, with sites planned in Swindon (think the to-be ditched Honda plant), Stoke and South Wales.

“We need to accelerate the shift away from fossil-powered cars if we are to tackle the climate emergency. Labour’s support package will offer a lifeline for a new clean era of manufacturing.”

The elephant in the electric car room is batteries. The production of them is addressed above, but the disposal of them is a point of contention. Labour wants the remaining £500 million to go towards four plants for the reprocessing of batteries for their rare metals and minerals.

Labour’s renewable power for an EV-driving Britain

Labour's 'green industrial revolution'So we’ve got the electric cars, the capacity to produce the batteries within them, the incentive to buy them and the infrastructure to charge them. Now we need to power it all.

To that end, Labour wants to build 37 new offshore wind farms via a new public-private venture, in which it would have a 51 percent stake, generating power for 57 million homes. It wants to shake our reliance on foreign firms for wind power. Labour says the venture would create 67,000 jobs in East Anglia, Scotland, Yorkshire and the North East. 

The ‘people’s power fund’ will be the result of profits taken from the energy harnessed and sold with the new facilities. This would allow £1 billion every year to be invested in struggling seaside communities.

Car running costs ranked – and it’s bad news for BMW drivers

Car running costs ranked

When you add up the cost of fuel, insurance, road tax, MOTs and cleaning, along with extra outlays like parking tickets and road tolls, how much does your car really cost to run? These are the top 12 most expensive brands, according to a survey by MoneySupermarket. Some of these might surprise you.

12. Hyundai

Car running costs ranked

This might come as a shock, but one of the greatest proprietors of value on four wheels isn’t so cheap when it comes to running costs. Hyundai kicks off our list with a typical £1,592 annual bill. Over the 326 times an average Hyundai is driven per year, that equates to £4.88 per journey.

11. Nissan

Car running costs ranked

Nissan is next, with an average £1,622 annual bill. What’s interesting is that, on average, a Nissan is driven 288 times a year – nearly 40 times less than a Hyundai. That ups the per-drive cost to £5.63.

10. Citroen

Car running costs ranked

It’s £25 a year more expensive, typically, to run a Citroen for a year than a Nissan, at £1,647. Although Citroens are used 30 times more per year, making the per-drive cost £5.18.

9. Kia

Car running costs ranked

Another shocker as Hyundai’s good-value Korean stablemate is even further up the list in ninth. Costing £1,755 a year to run, it’s significantly more expensive, too. With 300 uses per year on average, a single journey has an average cost of £5.85.

8. Ford

Car running costs ranked

Another mainstream brand finds itself on the most-expensive list. A Ford costs just £1 a year more than Kia to run, however, at £1,756. Being used 31 times more on average, the per-use cost is much lower, at £5.30.

7. Vauxhall

Car running costs ranked

Ford’s arch-rival Vauxhall is up there, too, with a yearly cost of ownership of £1,779. Being the third most frequently used marque on the list, that cost is spread over 346 journeys, for a per-drive cost of £5.15.

6. Peugeot

Car running costs ranked

But Vauxhall loses out to Peugeot on per-use value. Even though it costs £1,785 every year, on average, to own a Peugeot, that is spread over 374 journeys. That makes the per-use cost an impressive £4.77.

5. Renault

Car running costs ranked

Renault opens the top five (or should that be the bottom five?), with a £1,834 per-year cost of ownership. It comes second to its fellow French marque in terms of usage, though. With 355 drives, Renaults have a £5.17 per-use cost.

4. Volkswagen

Car running costs ranked

German cars are often pricier to buy, so it stands to reason they’d be pricier to own. Volkswagens, on average, cost £1,900 to own a year, with a £5.92 per-use cost.

3. Toyota

Car running costs ranked

Another surprise, sandwiched between the Germans. Where’s Mercedes-Benz? Nope, in its place comes Toyota. It’s the first marque on the list to exceed £2,000 per-year to own, at £2,085. It costs £6.26 over each of the average 333 drives.

2. Audi

Car running costs ranked

Vorsprung durch expensive, Audis cost £2,214 per year to own on average. Over just 264 uses every year, each journey costs £8.39. It’s the most expensive car per-use to own. You can bet fuel, insurance, tax and cleaning play all play a big part.

1. BMW

Car running costs ranked

Overall, however, BMW is the most expensive brand to own, at £2,411 per year. Over 292 uses, each drive costs £8.26. It’s not all servicing, fuel and tax, however. BMW owners spend an average of £136 a year on cleaning alone. According to MoneySupermarket, that’s 127 percent more than drivers of other cars.

You have just days get a £3,000 discount on a Morgan 3 Wheeler

Morgan 3 Wheeler £3000 deal

Morgan has been offering a £3,000 discount on new 3 Wheelers as part of its 110th anniversary celebrations. That offer is now just days from elapsing, so if you want a 3 Wheeler with a factory-approved saving, you need to get your skates on. 

The promotion will end on September 30, after which time the basic price for a 3 Wheeler will go back up, from £35,886, to £38,886.

The £3,000 discount represents a 7.7 percent saving on the model’s standard price.

Morgan’s 3 Wheeler is the most appropriate model with which to share anniversary celebrations with customers. Why? Well, for the first 30 years of its 110-year history, it was the only model the marque offered.

Morgan 3 Wheeler £3000 deal

The 3 Wheeler stays true to the original’s lightweight simple back-to-basics principles. With an 85hp motorcycle-derived V-twin, it isn’t exactly overflowing with power. Not that it needs to be, though, given it weighs just 525kg. That’s plenty to get that weight moving, and plenty to get the skinny single rear wheel spinning.

It’s safe to say the 3 Wheeler is probably the rawest, if not the fastest, car on sale. It makes the Lotus Elise feel like a Bentley Continental by comparison.

Morgan 3 Wheeler £3000 deal

Alongside the 3 Wheeler promotion, there’s also a range of special ‘110 Anniversary’ 4/4 and Plus 4 models to choose from, in addition to the 110 Works Edition Plus 4. The Plus 8 and Aero 8 V8-engined models have just recently gone out of production.

As for what comes after Morgan is done celebrating its 110th anniversary? The newly-revealed Plus Six is due to make waves in the Morgan range, as a replacement for the much-adored V8-powered Plus 8. With a new platform, Morgan is beginning the rejuvenation of its model lineup with the Plus Six. Malvern’s future looks bright.