New app helps you find an empty parking space

Parking hack app to curb parking woes

A new app aims to take advantage of connected car technology to help drivers find parking spaces more quickly. Thanks to real-time knowledge of what’s happening on the road, the search for an empty space could soon be a thing of the past.

Called Wejo, the British app will use data processed from connected cars. In theory, if all cars are connected and everyone has the app, it can use data to ascertain everything from the best routes to avoid traffic, to where parking spaces are free.

Parking hack app to curb parking woes

The potential is enormous, says Wejo, to ‘create new revenue streams, reduce costs or enhance safety and convenience for drivers’.

The Chester-based company has investors including US automotive giant General Motors, which paid £20 million for a 10 percent stake.

The company’s founder, entrepreneur Richard Barlow, will find other uses for the data as well. He intends to supply it to insurance firms, breakdown services and local authorities.

Parking hack app to curb parking woes

The question, of course, is whether drivers will want to sign up, given their data will be so widely available.

That said, the app apparently ‘obsesses about putting drivers and passengers first with built-in compliance and anonymisation frameworks, making sure that what’s private, stays private’. 

The speeding loophole that could help you avoid a fine

The speeding loophole that could get you out of a ticket

Getting a speeding ticket can ruin your day, but you may be able to appeal. This depends on whether police have adhered to the rules in sending you the ticket.

If you’re caught speeding, a letter has to be sent that should arrive at your home within 14 days of the incident. If the date of the incident and the subsequent date the letter was sent don’t allow for that 14-day window, the ticket may not be enforceable.

It’s a rule that keeps the admin work of the police force tight. Yet it can also lead to speeders catching a lucky break.

The speeding loophole that could get you out of a ticket

To be clear, the date of the incident and the date the letter was sent must be within a decent likelihood of allowing the 14-day deadline. If the letter does arrive later than that, but should have come earlier due to delays in the post, it’s still enforceable. If it arrives four weeks after the incident, having been sent a week ago, clearly it isn’t enforceable.

“All the police need to do is show the ticket should have reached the vehicle’s registered owner under normal circumstances within 14 days,” says The Money Advice Service, which highlighted the rule.

“This means the letter could go to an old address if you’ve not updated your licence, it could go to a hire company or to your work address if the vehicle isn’t yours.”

Drivers mistakenly fined for speeding

Problems with the postal service, therefore, or the letter going to another address before it gets to you, won’t find you favour in court. If it was sent in a timely manner, it still stands.

Clearly, it goes without saying that the best way to avoid speeding tickets is not to speed…

One-off MG art car debuts in London

MG art car

MG’s London design studio has given itself a first birthday present. The MG ZS art car is a collaboration with UK-based stencil artist DS_Art. The one-off car has gone on display at MG’s Marylebone office in London today (September 26).

“Our first year at the London studio has been very exciting, allowing us to be located right at the heart of one of the world’s foremost design-conscious cities,” said Carl Gotham, design director at MG. 

“It has been extremely rewarding seeing our team grow over the past year and our collaboration with DS_Art to create this one-off MG ZS is a great highlight for all of us.”

MG art car

The car is a showpiece for the MG Advanced Studio’s first year of operation. It’s also the studio’s nod to the week-long London Design Festival. Note the ‘LDF’ on the car’s number plate.

The studio will soon be announcing the winners of the European round of the SAIC Design Challenge: a collaborative effort with the London Royal College of Art, to help next-generation designers on their way.

“Our aim is to be ahead of future trends in design and that is why we are actively engaging with people within our community to nurture new talent and bring fresh, creative thinking to the MG and Roewe brands across global markets,” Gotham said of the design challenge.

“The SAIC Design Challenge is evidence of that, where we mentor talented design students by giving them the creative platform to express themselves.”

MG art car

The art itself seems almost graffiti-like. Indeed, stencil art does involve placing precisely-drawn diagrams over an object and spraying over them.

“The act of spray-painting is immediate and chaotic, yet the stencil is created painstakingly with absolute precision. A suitable medium for an artist whose art is full of contradiction,” said DS_Art of the piece.

“Over the past 12 months, I’ve created wall clocks, eight-storey-high elevator art, chess sets and I’m now proud to add the MG ZS to my portfolio.”

Hybrid Catalytic Converter Thefts

How to keep your car safe from catalytic converter theft

Hybrid Catalytic Converter TheftsRecent news has highlighted a dramatic increase in the theft of catalytic converters from cars, with police forces across the country seeing a surge in the expensive components being taken.

London has been hardest hit, with the Metropolitan Police recording more than 2,900 catalytic converter thefts in the first half of 2019. That compares with 1,674 thefts in the whole of 2018. 

What does a catalytic converter do?

Hybrid Catalytic Converter TheftsA catalytic converter forms part of the exhaust system on a car. It processes the emissions from a combustion engine into less harmful gases, before releasing them into the atmosphere. 

Catalytic converters first gained widespread use in the 1970s, with the United States making them mandatory from 1975 onwards. They became a common feature of modern cars in the UK from 1992. 

Why are they a target for theft?

The chemical reaction that takes place within the converter requires precious metals to act as the actual catalyst. These include metals such as palladium, rhodium, and platinum. 

Market values for these rare materials have increased substantially in the past 18 months.

Palladium can be sold for £1,300 per ounce, with rhodium is worth up to £4,300 per ounce. Such high figures naturally make catalytic converters a desirable target for thieves. 

How do thieves steal catalytic converters?

Hybrid Catalytic Converter Thefts

As part of the exhaust system, catalytic converters are left exposed beneath most cars. This means thieves can simply slide under the car to remove them. SUVs are particularly at risk, as the ride height makes access beneath the car easier.

Some are bolted onto the exhaust, with other types being welded into place. The latter can be removed by cutting through the pipework to free the cat. 

Most catalytic converters are unmarked, meaning they cannot be easily traced to an individual vehicle. Once taken, converters can then be sold to unlicensed scrap metal dealers. 

Why are hybrid cars being targeted the most?

Hybrid Catalytic Converter Thefts

Hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, have seen a larger increase in the volume of catalytic converters being stolen. 

Thieves target these vehicles as the catalytic converters are said to be less corroded. The hybrid drivetrain results in lower overall exhaust emissions, leaving the precious metals in better condition. In turn, this makes them more valuable to sell on.

What are manufacturers doing to help?

The problem of catalytic converter theft is not new, with the AA noting that it has been an issue for more than a decade. This has given manufacturers time to develop ways of keeping cats safe.

Toyota offers a special ‘Catloc’ device, which can be retrofitted to a number of vehicles made by the manufacturer. Priced between £200 to £250 including fitting, Toyota has said it sells the Catloc without making a profit. 

The company has also reduced the price of replacement catalytic converters, and increased production, to help get drivers back on the road quicker. 

What else can I do to protect my catalytic converter?

Hybrid Catalytic Converter TheftsNot all cars are at such risk, with some models having the catalytic converted mounted within the engine bay. This makes it much harder to steal. Drivers should check with their local dealership if they are unsure. 

The Met Police has also published advice on how to reduce the risk of your catalytic converter being stolen. These include:

  • Parking your car in a garage overnight
  • Ensuring your car is parked to make accessing the catalytic converter harder
  • Trying to park in a location that is well-lit and overlooked
  • Installing CCTV to cover where your car is parked
  • Marking your catalytic converter with a forensic marker, which can make it harder to sell on by thieves

Top tips: how to advertise your car for sale

01_Advertise_Car

Advertising your car for sale – it sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong. Little mistakes can make a big difference and could affect the final price you agree with a buyer.

Worse still, it could mean the difference between shifting your car in record time or finding it sat on your driveway for longer than you expected. With our guide to advertising your car for sale, you should sell your car quickly and with the minimum of fuss.

Prepare the car for sale

Before you get as far as listing the car for sale, you’ll need to prepare it for the masses. Those empty crisp packets in the footwell, dog hairs in the boot and sticky finger marks on the rear windows aren’t a good look.

Potential buyers will make snap decisions based on the car they see in the photographs, so spending a day washing and waxing will pay dividends in the long run. At the very least, spending a fiver at the local hand car wash will ensure your vehicle reaches respectable levels of presentation.

Alternatively, bring in the experts. A mini valet is likely to cost upwards of £30 and will include a wash and wax, interior dust and vacuum, windows cleaning and rubbish removal. That should be enough to attract potential buyers on the strength of your advertisement.

Washing the car

For seriously soiled motors, or if you’re looking to wow potential punters, a full valet is a good move, especially for more expensive cars. Think of a full valet as a deep clean, which is likely to include a polish, power-washed wheelarches, interior shampoo, door and boot shuts cleaned and interior deodorised.  

Prices vary depending on the size of car, length of valet and additional services, such as engine steam cleaning. But £100 – £200 could be money well spent if you’re looking to achieve a top price for your motor.

Any chips, dents or damage you find should be rectified prior to sale, but only if it will make a difference to the price you expect to achieve. Little point spending £250 on a car that’s worth a mere £500. Use your common sense and act accordingly.

Where to sell your car

Once upon a time, selling a car meant selecting from a small number of options, with the weekly Auto Trader the most likely avenue. Other options included the small ads in the local newspaper, weekly car magazines and the Post Office noticeboard.

Times have changed and there are a number of different outlets to choose from. Here are some of the most popular:

Online

Simply advertising your car online and hoping for the best isn’t enough – you have to select the most appropriate channel. Consider the car and the audience it is most likely to appeal to. If it’s a performance car, PistonHeads might be the best option.

For older vehicles, have a look at Car & Classic. It’s free to list your vehicle and many fans of retro and classic cars will happily spend an hour on the site, dreaming of filling their fantasy garage.

Searching for a car

What was once the printed hero of used car market is now one of the leading outlets of the digital age. Auto Trader claims a car is listed for sale every 60 seconds, with the site featuring a number of different search options and pre-defined fields.

Other outlets to consider include Gumtree, one-make car forums, social media and eBay. Selling a car on eBay requires its own set of dos and don’ts, which we’ll explore in a separate article.

Print

While selling online is quick and easy, printed media should not be ruled out. If you’re not in a hurry to sell or are looking to achieve the maximum price possible, advertising in a glossy car magazine could be for you.

You should also consider the weekly classic car newspapers, such as Classic Car Weekly and Classic Car Buyer. Remember, not everyone heads online to buy a car. Traditional methods still work.

Other options

Other options to consider are traditional auctions, part-exchanging at a local dealer selling via a company such as We Buy Any Car. There are ins and outs associated with each option, so decide which one is best for you. Bear in mind that, in the majority of cases, you’re likely to achieve far less than the retail value of your car. The flip-side is a hassle-free sale.

Say cheese: take lots of photographs

Car photography

With your car fresh from its makeover, now’s the time to take some photographs. You don’t need to be a wannabe Annie Leibovitz behind the camera, but it’s essential to take a good range of shots to present your car in all its glory.

Think brochure shots rather than anything too arty. If possible, find a plain background and make sure you shoot in daylight, but avoid direct sunlight. Today’s smartphones will be more than up to the task, but avoid using any of the phone’s fancy filters. Definitely a case of #nofilter here.

As for the selection of photos, we recommend the following:

  • Front ¾
  • Rear ¾
  • Side profile
  • Front face-on
  • Rear face-on
  • Dashboard – taken from behind the front seats
  • Dashboard – looking through from one of the rear doors
  • Front seats
  • Rear seats
  • Inside the boot
  • Engine bay
  • Close up of alloy wheel(s)
  • Any damage
  • Roof up and roof down (convertible only!)
  • Any special features/modifications

Finally, make sure the photos are in focus. You’ll be amazed how many sellers forget this simple point.

Do your homework

Homework

You’re almost ready to write the ad, but before you do, it’s time to do some homework. Don’t worry, it’s nothing too strenuous, but a little time on your laptop could avoid wasted time in the long run.

Take a look at similar cars for sale, which will help you decide how much to ask for your car. If it’s a classic car, check out the Practical Classics guide for a rough estimate of what you’re likely to achieve.

If the vehicle is stuck somewhere between classic status and something relatively modern, you might consider selling via eBay. The market will dictate the price, but list the car with a reserve price if you’re worried about getting less than it’s worth

It’s also worth mentioning eBay has an advanced search function, allowing you to view the prices of recently sold vehicles.

Writing the ad: the essentials

How to advertise your car

This is it: your moment to shine – a chance to give your beloved motor the send-off it deserves. A sales pitch to beat all sales pitches. Just avoid heading into David Brent territory.

Seriously, you’ve gone to all the trouble of preparing your car for sale and taking photographs worthy of a Sony World Photography Award, don’t ruin it by penning some lacklustre words.

Be informative and descriptive, but don’t be afraid to ‘big up’ your motor. List the positives, point out the faults, but above all else… be honest. It’s illegal to wrongly describe your car, so don’t do it.

Crucially, the ad must tease people into picking up the phone to arrange a visit/test-drive. But you don’t have to give everything away in the ad. Here’s what you should include:

  • Make and model, along with trim level. If it’s a special edition, make this clear in the ad.
  • Year of registration, including letter/number. This is important from a road tax perspective and also for buyers looking for facelift/refreshed models.
  • Engine size and type of fuel. It’s also worth being specific, i.e. 2.0 TDCi or 1.5 dCi.
  • Mileage – be honest about the mileage. Some buyers will be attracted by low-mileage vehicles.
  • Owners – some buyers will actively search for one-owner cars. The newer the car, the more important this is.
  • Warranty – state whether or not the car is covered by a manufacturer or aftermarket warranty.
  • MOT – mention when the MOT expires. Tax is no longer transferrable to the new owner, so don’t waste your time with this.
  • Service history – state whether or not the car benefits from a full service history. A stamped service book complemented by receipts is always preferable.
  • The price – list a price, but don’t worry about adding ‘ono’ because buyers will be keen to negotiate anyway. Resist the temptation to put POA (price on application) as this irritates many buyers.
  • Contact details – add your mobile number and email address and be prepared to answer any queries. Be polite and courteous as it’s often said people ‘buy the seller’ as much as the car.

Other elements you might wish to mention include the colour, especially if it’s a rare hue, optional extras fitted to the car, known faults and your reason for selling. But avoid waffle – Auto Trader recommends between 50 and 75 words for an online ad, but you can adjust this accordingly.

Writing the ad: style and tone

When writing the ad, be clear and avoid using jargon or meaningless phrases. ‘First to see will buy’ means nothing so don’t say it. Equally, do not use block capitals, as this suggests you are shouting at your potential buyer. Not a great start.

Finally, avoid text-speak as this is both lazy and has the potential to alienate your audience. When you’re done, put your words through a spell checker.

That’s it, you’re all set. Be prepared for your phone to be ringing off the hook. Not that mobile phones can ring off the hook. As forum people say: good luck with the sale.

Salesman to be reunited with the first Ford Mustang sold

First Ford Mustang in 1965

The Ford Mustang started its journey as a breakout hit with one man and one car. Harry Phillips is the man behind the sale of the first Mustang to be sold. He did the deal at George G.R. Parsons Ford in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1964.

It was bought by an airline pilot by the name of Stanley Tucker, pictured above with Mustang #1. 

Now, the Henry Ford Museum is set to host these old chums as they reunite, 55 years after the car was accidentally sold. The car was a pre-production convertible that wasn’t earmarked for sale, but it’s the one with the very first Mustang serial number. A very similar car is pictured here.

First Mustang sold reunited with salesman

Despite its crooked panels and dodgy details befitting a ‘practice car’, Phillips reckons it was an easy sale. Given that Tucker exclaimed “it’s mine” as soon as he clapped eyes on it, we’re inclined to believe him.

As above, the car wasn’t really supposed to be sold. Tucker made his decision three days before the Mustang was officially supposed to go on sale. To secure his car, he made a deal with the dealer to allow the car to stay on display. 

First Mustang sold reunited with salesman

“We moved the car into the showroom that day,” Phillips said. 

“He came in every day to check it out and make sure no one did anything to it.”

Though Harry Phillips enjoyed a long life of selling cars after his blunder sale in 1964, he’s never actually seen the car since. That’s because Ford got it back not long after.

First Mustang sold reunited with salesman

Two years after buying the car, Tucker finally had his prized prototype Mustang taken from his grasp by Ford. The company swapped his, the very first Mustang sold, with 10,000 miles on the clock, for the one-millionth.

Finally, the prototype and the salesman will be reunited, 55 years after the unofficial start of one of the great car sales success stories in history.

Ford Transit PHEV promises to clean up our cities

Ford Transit PHEV

Ford is moving with the times with its iconic Transit van. Businesses and organisations trialing the new PHEV (plug-in hybrid) model have given it the thumbs up.

Participants included Addison Lee Group, Autoglass, British Gas, DPD, Heathrow Airport, the Metropolitan Police, Royal Mail, Sky, Transport for London and Vodafone. Each organisation ran one of the 20 vans for 12 months.

Some of the figures from the trial are interesting. The vans covered 150,000 miles over the course of the year, with 75 percent of the driving in Central London completed in EV mode. Likewise, 49 percent of the driving in Greater London was done in full EV mode.

Cleaning up London’s commercial vehicles

If PHEV and EV vans like the Transit proliferate, it will go some way to cleaning up the eight million miles of driving covered by commercial vehicles in London every day. It’s thought around 7,000 vans are driving every hour during peak times in Central London. If three-quarters of that driving can be electric-only modes like the Transit PHEV can achieve, London’s air quality should improve.

Ford Transit PHEV

A production version of the plug-in hybrid Transit will appear towards the end of the year. Ford’s learnings from the 12-month trial run are being used to refine the production model right now.

“We also know that businesses still have legitimate concerns about the range of fully-electric vehicles, as well as their cost-effectiveness and reliability,” said Mark Harvey, director of the urban electrified van programme.

“These trials have helped Ford and its customers to investigate the extent to which PHEVs can help to achieve urban air quality goals, whilst not compromising on productivity.”

Ford Transit PHEV, and a Transit EV on the way

The PHEV has a target zero-emission range of 31 miles. The electric motor is helped by a 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, with a total system range exceeding 310 miles. Ford says the battery under the floor doesn’t compromise load space.

Ford Transit PHEV

The PHEV is just the beginning for electrified Transit vans. An all-electric version is due to join the lineup in 2021.

“This trial is the first time Ford has given such early prototype vehicles to customers, and we’ve been able to incorporate their feedback directly into the production van,” Harvey continued.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive – operators don’t want to give them back.”

Are mobile phones worse for the planet than cars?

Smartphones and tech worse than cars for the planet

New research suggests throwaway technology such as mobile phones could rival cars in terms of its effect on the environment.

If you’re confused, think of it in terms of lifecycles. How many new phones are delivered, and how many old ones thrown in the bin, every September when a new iPhone is launched? How many lithium-ion batteries, which required carbon emissions to produce, need to be disposed of every year?

The study by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) suggests if we extend the lifespan of our electronics, we could cut Europe-wide emissions equivalent to taking two million cars off the road.

Smartphones and tech worse than cars for the planet

Increasing the life expectancy of everything from phones to washing machines by five years would save 10 million tonnes of emissions annually by 2030: equivalent to taking five million cars off the road. 

Generally speaking, the spotlight shines on the energy our electronic devices use, rather than the energy used to produce and dispose of them. Around 15 million tonnes of emissions every year are attributed to smartphones alone, and that’s just in Europe. 

Planned obsolescence

In fact, the lifespans of the electronics are artificially held back to increase sales and profits, with so-called ‘planned obsolescence’. Smartphones and tech worse than cars for the planet

“This study is further proof that Europe can’t meet its climate obligations without addressing our production and consumption patterns,” said Jean-Pierre Schweitzer, policy officer at the EEB.

“The climate impact of our disposable smartphone culture is far too high. We can’t afford to keep replacing them every few years. We need products that last longer and can be repaired if they break.

“As public support for longer-lasting products and climate action grows, we have an opportunity to radically rethink the way our products are designed and produced.”

Revealed: the Apple CarPlay feature you can’t use yet

Apple CarPlay iOS 13

A new feature that the iOS 13 update brings to Apple CarPlay won’t work in any car. At least, not yet.

The ability for your iPhone to project CarPlay onto two different screens simultaneously was one of the major updates for the facility, but can’t yet be adopted by any current production cars.

Apple CarPlay dual screen: explained

Don’t get confused with a split-screen display. The new feature allows different apps to work on separate dashboard screens, as fitted to some modern cars.

Thus you could have Spotify on the central screen while your digital dashboard handles Waze or Google Maps. ‘Virtual Cockpit’ has been fitted to Audis for four years now, so one would hope for an instant level of compatibility.

“Automakers can develop CarPlay systems that show information in a second screen, such as in a cluster or HUD,” Apple explains.

Apple CarPlay iOS 13

The Verge questioned 11 major car manufacturers that offer CarPlay about the updated version, to see if it would work. But while compatibility and the ability to make full use of the new feature will come eventually, it’s not happening yet. 

Fiat-Chrysler and General Motors replied, saying: “More info on that at a later date” and “Stay tuned…” respectively. The rest either dodged the question, or said outright it wouldn’t work.

Cars generally lag behind handheld devices and computers in terms of technology. Now, with the release of iOS 13, the same is again true.

Lagging behind

Apple CarPlay iOS 13

This sticking point is perhaps best exemplified by Tesla: a startup electric car company that’s clawed much of its market ground from existing manufacturers thanks to bleeding-edge tech.

To tech-savvy car buyers, that’s the battle already won. Over-the-air updates and infotainment systems that are up to the standards of the tech industry have put Tesla on the map.

Hopefully, new cars like the Porsche Taycan and Volkswagen ID.3 are the first moves by older manufacturers in a long-overdue game of automotive industry catch-up. 

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.

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