Revealed: Where your car is most likely to be stolen

Car likely to be stolen in Manchester

A Freedom of Information request has revealed the cities where your car is most likely to be stolen.

Taking London out of the equation, Manchester tops the table, with 50.66 crimes per 1,000 vehicles. Of the 178,400 registered vehicles in the city, 9,037 were targeted in some way.

The data was sourced from Freedom of Information requests made to the police constabularies of the UK’s 30 most populated towns and cities. Crimes were committed between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

Although Birmingham doesn’t make the top 10, the city has the most overall car crimes in the UK. There were 14,758 car crimes during the period, but there are far more vehicles on the road in Birmingham, so the crimes per 1,000 vehicles figure is lower.

Nottingham, Bradford, Wolverhampton and Northampton complete the top five, but there’s better news elsewhere in the country.

Just 395 car crimes took place in 12 months in Luton – 10 times less than hotspot cities such as Liverpool and Bristol. The Bedfordshire town is named alongside Plymouth and Belfast as the safest places to own a car.

Top 10 UK car crime hotspots

City Crimes per 1,000 vehicles
1. Manchester 50.66
2. Nottingham 29.51
3. Bradford 27.59
4. Wolverhampton 27.07
5. Nottingham 25.97
6. Liverpool 25.95
7. Bolton 24.86
8. Coventry 22.24
9. Kingston upon Hull 22.13
10. Leicester 21.74

Perhaps predictably, the capital sees more car crime than anywhere else in the UK. The worst hit areas are in the centre of London, with Westminster, Hackney and Tower Hamlets topping the table. It’s worth remembering that the figures relate to all motor vehicles, including motorcycles and light vans.

Stolen vehicle claims up 22 percent in first quarter

Top 10 London car crime hotspots

Borough Crimes per 1,000 vehicles
1. Westminster 78.20
2. Hackney 74.31
3. Tower Hamlets 70.17
4. Haringey 69.01
5. Camden 68.34
6. Enfield 66.10
7. Havering 65.64
8. Kensington & Chelsea 64.75
9. Newham 62.06
10. Southwark 59.18

The data was collated by ChooseMyCar. You can view the full results of the research here.

2020 Ford Puma review: top of the crossover class

Take Britain’s best-seller, fortify it into something more fashionable, then add a sprinkling of off-road attitude. Catnip for car buyers, right? Not necessarily.

The 2014 Ecosport was Ford’s last attempt at a Fiesta-based small SUV. Designed primarily for India and South America, it felt woefully off the pace in Europe: a second-world car that became a first-world problem. A critical drubbing led to slow sales, which even a comprehensive facelift in 2017 couldn’t fully fix.

Despite borrowing its name from Ford’s curvy late-90s coupe – also derived from the Fiesta, of course – the new Puma is effectively a successor to the Ecosport (although, bizarrely, the latter car lives on as a cheaper alternative). And this time, Ford isn’t doing things by halves.

The Puma, you see, is more than simply a taller Fiesta. Priced from £20,545, it has some genuinely clever features, plus lively handling and bountiful boot space. Spoiler alert: I think it could be the compact crossover to beat. Let’s start with the styling…

Different by design

Distinctive design can make or break a car in this sector. Looking different to a humdrum hatchback is what counts, even if that means being willfully weird. How else do you explain the success of the Nissan Juke?

Thankfully, the Puma is easier on the eye than the Juke. Deep bumpers and fulsome haunches provide some visual muscle, while a steeply-raked windscreen adds a dose of dynamism. But its overall design is soft and friendly-faced (Ford points out the ‘optimistic’ front grille).

The luxury-focused Titanium model has black wheelarch extensions, while those of the sportier ST-Line are body colour. Both wear 17-inch alloys – or 18s for the flagship ST-Line X. You can upgrade to 19s, too, for the full pimp-my-Puma look.

There aren’t so many personalisation options as the Volkswagen T-Cross, for instance, but bold LED running lights and a bright palette of paint colours help the Puma stand out.

A family-sized Fiesta

Inside is where things get really interesting. You’ll recognise the Fiesta dashboard, but the digital dials are new. The 12.3-inch display changes appearance according to which drive mode you select. More on those shortly.

The high-mounted centre touchscreen is easy to use while driving, and is supplemented by voice controls and shortcut buttons on the steering wheel. My test cars both had the 10-speaker B&O Premium hi-fi, which is great value at £450.

The Puma’s seats are mounted 60mm higher than a Fiesta, which gives a more commanding view of the road. A 10cm longer wheelbase also liberates enough legroom for lanky teenagers in the back, although they may baulk at the lack of USB points. Removable seat covers, which can be unzipped and washed are a neat touch, albeit not confirmed for the UK market.

The boot holds a class-leading 456 litres of luggage (401 litres in hybrid versions): more than the Kuga SUV from the class above. The load area is usefully square, too, at one metre wide and up to 1.15 metres tall. Open the – optionally electric – tailgate and the flexible parcel shelf lies flat against the rear window, so you don’t need to remove it when carrying bulky loads.

There’s also an 80-litre, rubber-lined storage compartment beneath the boot floor, which Ford calls the ‘Megabox’. A removable plug means you can rinse it out with water, which then drains away beneath the car. It’s the perfect place to stash muddy shoes or sports gear.

From mild to wild

The launch engine line-up comprises Ford’s familiar 1.0-litre Ecoboot petrol in three guises: 125hp, 125hp with mild-hybrid (MHEV) tech and 155hp MHEV. This isn’t a hybrid in the usual sense; it can’t drive on electric power alone, nor can it be plugged in. Instead, the batteries harvest braking energy to boost the engine when needed – and power the start-stop system.

The result is useful fuel savings. The 125hp MHEV manages 43.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 124g/km in the latest WLTP tests, versus 40.6mpg and 131g/km for the same engine without electrical assistance. The 155hp version costs £750 more upfront, but there’s little penalty at the pumps: it returns 42.0mpg and 127g/km.

Frankly, neither engine is a ball of fire. The 125hp car reaches 62mph from rest in 9.8 seconds, while the more powerful model is 0.8 seconds swifter. However, fast Ford fans may not have long to wait for a Puma ST, development of which is rumoured to be well underway. If it’s as dynamically deft as the hot Fiesta, it could be a game-changer.

Less excitingly, there’s also a 1.5-litre diesel and seven-speed automatic gearbox in the works, both due in May 2020. As well as other models, this combination will be offered in the forthcoming flagship ST-Line X Vignale, which combines racier styling with a plush, fully-loaded interior. The aim, according to one Ford spokesperson, is to “tempt buyers downsizing from larger diesel SUVs”.

Handle with flair

The Puma weighs just 60kg more than a Fiesta, so both engines feel adequately brisk. Indeed, I’d be tempted to stick with the 125hp MHEV. The extra oomph served up by its mild-hybrid system compensates for its small displacement, making for eager acceleration out of bends. The downside is a lot of thrummy three-cylinder noise under load.

Cleverly, the hybrid system cuts the engine as you coast to a stop, then restarts it in 300 milliseconds (literally the blink of an eye, says Ford) when you need to pull away. The process is utterly seamless, too.

There are five drive modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Trail, although with passive dampers their effect is mostly limited to steering and throttle response, along with stability and traction control calibration. Don’t get too carried away in Trail either: the front-wheel-drive-only Puma is no Land Rover.

In terms of chassis set-up, the Ford sits at the sportier end of the spectrum. Its ride is taut and measured – perhaps too firm on 19-inch wheels: try before you buy – and it corners with calm composure. The steering is nicely weighted, although it doesn’t fizz with feedback like a Fiesta, and its manual gearshift is notchy and tactile.

Ultimately, the Puma isn’t as much fun as a Fiesta or Focus, but there’s a pleasing coherence to its controls, and responses on the road, which makes it the small crossover of choice for those who enjoy driving. Ford has a knack for getting this stuff right.

2020 Ford Puma: verdict

Usually when writing a crossover review, I conclude by suggesting you choose the hatchback instead. Conventional cars are generally cheaper to buy and run, drive better and are scarcely less spacious. In the case of cars like the dismal Vauxhall Mokka X, not to mention the original UK Ecosport, fashion has a lot to answer for.

Today’s conclusion is less clear-cut, as the Puma offers some real advantages over its smaller sibling. It’s genuinely practical enough for a family of four, with the reassurance of a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It also offers technologies that aren’t available on the Fiesta, plus, it doesn’t sacrifice decent handling on the altar of raised ride height and a rugged look.

This is an extremely competitive class, with the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Seat Arona and Peugeot 2008 among an ever-expanding cadre of rivals. The Puma’s sportier bent may not suit everyone, but it certainly should be on your radar if you like this type of car. This time, I think Ford has a hit on its hands.

Ford Puma ST-Line 125hp MHEV: specification

Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol mild-hybrid

Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

Power: 125hp

0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Top speed: 119mph

Fuel economy: 40.6mpg

CO2: 131g/km (WLTP)

Length/width/height: 4,207/1,930/1,552mm

Boot size: 401 litres

Euro NCAP safety rating: 5 stars

2020 Ford Puma example prices

Titanium 125hp manual: £20,545

ST-Line 125hp MHEV manual: £21,795

ST-Line X 155hp MHEV manual: £23,645

2020 Ford Puma: in pictures

Car recalls 2019

The most recalled cars in Europe in 2019

Car recalls 2019

There were 380 passenger car recalls in 2019 – 32 percent more than in 2018. That’s according to the Car Recalls website, which also reported a 25 percent upturn in the number of vehicle models affected. Here, we reveal the top 20 most recalled car brands in Europe last year, with the results presented in reverse order.

20. Lexus – 6 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Lexus announced six recalls involving seven models, with the ES, LS 500 and UX having a pair of recalls each. Several models were also called back due to a defective airbag inflator, while a CT 200h built at the start of the year might have a problem with a damper rod on the rear door.

19. Nissan – 6 recalls

Car recalls 2019

In the UK, you can use the government website to find out if a car manufacturer has recalled a vehicle, part or accessory because of a serious safety problem. Simply Google ‘Car recalls UK’ to find out more. In 2019, Nissan announced six recalls involving 10 models. The passenger airbag was the subject of the majority of Nissan recalls.

18. Seat – 8 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Seat issued eight recalls in 2019, with the Ateca and Leon the most affected models. Some recalls cover a model over a long production run, while others are a little more focused. For example, Seat Leons built on 29 April 2019 may have suffered from a loose lock nut in the transmission.

17. Jeep – 9 recalls

Car recalls 2019

There were nine Jeep recalls involving four models in 2019. The Cherokee and Wrangler were the most affected models, each one being affected by three separate recalls. Issues include a loose passenger seat, defective airbags and poor welding.

16. Skoda – 9 recalls

Car recalls 2019

The manufacturer should contact you if your vehicle is affected by a recall. In most cases, you will be invited to the dealer, where the defective parts will be inspected. New parts will be fitted at no cost to the customer. Skoda announced nine recalls in 2019, with the Octavia and Karoq the most affected.

15. Mazda – 10 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Six out of 10 of Mazda’s recalls related to the Mazda 3. Problems included a windscreen wiper fault, the passenger airbag deactivation indicator light and the wheels not correctly tightened. Overall, Mazda announced 10 recalls involving 10 models in 2019.

14. Porsche – 11 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Porsche announced 11 recalls involving seven models, with the 911 and Cayman the most recalled models. Meanwhile, the Panamera had four recalls, with problems ranging from a short circuit in the air conditioning system to a power steering software issue.

13. Volvo – 11 recalls

Car recalls 2019

When a manufacturer contacts you, you’ll be told what the fault is, what you need to do next and who to contact. Although you do not have to respond to the recall, it’s worth bearing in mind that the car could become unsafe. There’s also the potential for it to fail its next MOT. Volvo issued 11 recalls in 2019.

12. Fiat – 12 recalls

Car recalls 2019

If you find a serious defect that affects the safety of your car or any of its parts, you’re advised to report it to the manufacturer. If you’re not happy with how the manufacturer is dealing with your report, you should contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Fiat announced 12 recalls in 2019, with the Talento and Ducato vans the most affected models.

11. Dodge – 14 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Here’s one for the pub quiz: the Ram truck is one of the most recalled cars ever. The truck was recalled a dozen times in 2019 alone. Dodge issued 14 recalls in 2019, with the Challenger, Charger, Dakota and Ram the affected models. Officially, the Ram division split from Dodge in 2009.

10. Toyota – 14 recalls

Car recalls 2019

In 2019, Toyota announced 14 recalls involving 11 models. The French-built Toyota Proace had the most defects, while the Yaris had the most recalls. In August, Toyota recalled the Camry, RAV4 and Prius models built between April and June 2019 due to a possible brake booster pump failure.

9. Renault – 14 recalls

Car recalls 2019

There were 14 Renault recalls in 2019. These range from seat belt problems on the Trafic van to defective welding on the catalytic converter fitted to the Captur, Clio and Kangoo. Meanwhile, the Alpine A110 sports car was the subject of three recalls.

8. Ford – 15 recalls

Car recalls 2019

It was a busy year Ford recalls. Six were issued for the Focus, with four of them relating to the latest model. The Car Recalls website reports on Mondeo, Galaxy and S-Max models manufactured between January 2014 and January 2019. In some cases, battery acid leakage might result in a fire.

7. Volkswagen – 17 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Volkswagen announced 17 recalls affecting 13 models. With five different issues, the Tiguan was the most recalled Volkswagen, with problems ranging from fractured coil springs to cracked seat frames.

6. Opel/Vauxhall – 18 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Several Opel/Vauxhall models were recalled in 2019, with the Crossland X the most affected. Some recalls may relate to a particular engine. For example, Combo, Crossland X and Grandland X models equipped with a diesel engine could have higher particulate emissions than specified.

5. BMW – 18 recalls

Car recalls 2019

BMW issued 18 recalls involving 19 models, with the 3 Series and X3 the most affected cars. It might be years before a safety issue prompts a recall. For example, one recall issued in 2019 relates to 3 Series models built between April 1999 and December 2003.

4. Audi – 19 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Audi issued 19 recalls in 2019, with problems affecting 15 models. Although the A4, A3 and A6 were the most recalled models, the new E-Tron SUV was the subject of a recall notice. The Car Recalls website reports that, due to a faulty seal, moisture could reach the high voltage battery through the cabling of the charging socket, increasing the risk of a fire.

3. Peugeot – 23 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Peugeot announced 23 recalls in 2019, with the Traveller and Expert vans the most troublesome vehicles. There was also a major recall for the 107 city car. Cars manufactured from May 2005 to November 2013 could be affected by a problem with the glue that sticks the glass to the rear door.

2. Citroen – 25 recalls

Car recalls 2019

Citroen celebrated its centenary year by issuing 25 recalls. The C4 Cactus was the most recalled model, with one issue concerning an inadequate weight distribution of the vehicle. The Citroen C1 was affected by the same problem as the Peugeot 107.

1. Mercedes-Benz – 56 recalls

Car recalls 2019

For the third year running, Mercedes-Benz tops the table, with 56 recalls issued in 2019. The A-Class, E-Class and Sprinter were the most recalled models, with 10 recalls each. The Car Recalls website points out that Mercedes ‘recalls its cars because of every slightest defect’. Two X-Class recalls are due to incorrect data being printed in the instruction manual.

HM The Queen and Dr Ralf Speth

Jaguar Land Rover boss Sir Ralf Speth to retire

Sir Ralf Speth

Sir Ralf Speth, charismatic CEO of Britain’s biggest car company, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), is to retire when his current contract comes to an end in September.

The former BMW executive, who has overseen a turnaround in fortunes for JLR, will become non-executive vice chairman of the firm.

He will also remain on the board of JLR owner Tata Sons.

A replacement for Sir Ralf has not yet been announced. Tata Motors said in a statement that a search committee has been formed ‘to identify a suitable successor in the coming months’.

‘Honoured’

HM The Queen and Dr Ralf Speth

In a statement, Sir Ralf said he was “very honoured to have worked with so many dedicated and creative people, both inside and outside of JLR.

“We have elevated Jaguar and Land Rover. We offer our customers multi-award-winning products and will continue to surprise with the best pipeline of new, innovative products we have ever had.”

Currently executive director and CEO, Sir Ralf Speth took over JLR in February 2010, when Ford sold JLR to Tata.   

He joined the Ford Premier Automotive Group in 2007 as production and product planning director.

Sir Ralf, a 64-year old German born in Bavaria, began his career at BMW in 1980, where he worked for two decades.

He was made a Sir in 2019, for services to the British automotive industry. He also has a doctorate from the University of Warwick. 

Nissan Juke production in Sunderland

‘Grave concern’ as UK car production hits 9-year low

Nissan Juke production in Sunderland

Car production in Britain fell for the third year running in 2019 with an alarming 14.2 percent decline taking the number of vehicles built in the UK down to 1.3 million.

That’s the lowest figure since 2010.

The Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders (SMMT) says two Brexit-related factory shutdowns in the spring and autumn had a “marked effect” on overall UK production.

Other factors include a lack of consumer and business confidence, weaknesses in key expert markets (particularly China), the replacement of best-selling British-built cars such as the Nissan Juke, and the EU-wide dash from diesel.

The current outlook for 2020 is not encouraging, either. Independent forecasts suggest another year of declining car production in the UK, with the total dropping to 1.27 million.

Just four years ago, 1.72 million cars were made in Britain – it was then a 17-year high.  

Free trade “essential”

Nissan Juke production in Sunderland

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the fall of UK car manufacturing is “of grave concern” as Brexit finally nears. In a briefing, he stressed the importance of quickly securing a post-Brexit deal. 

“Given the uncertainty the sector has experienced, it is essential we re-establish our global competitiveness and that starts with an ambitious free trade agreement (FTA) with Europe, one that guarantees all automotive products can be bought and sold without tariffs or additional burdens.”

He predicted negotiations will be challenging “but all sides stand to gain”.

A deal will “boost manufacturing, avoid costly price rises and maintain choice for UK consumers”.

It would also support a vital part of the British economy. UK automotive is an £82 billion industry that adds £18.6 billion of value to the economy and directly employs 168,000 people (and indirectly employs over 820,000).

In the North East and West Midlands, 1 in 6 manufacturing jobs is in automotive.

JLR is Britain’s biggest – again

Jaguar F-Type Castle Bromwich

Jaguar Land Rover ended the year with the highest UK production figure in 2019, building 385,197 cars. This was, however, a 14.3 percent decline on 2018.

Even steeper was the fall suffered by Nissan. 346,535 cars built was a 21.6 percent decline – although the Sunderland factory did suffer from the model change-over to the new Juke.

Mini was next up, with 221,928 cars made at its Oxford plant.

All the volume manufacturers suffered production falls in 2019, apart from Toyota, which boosted production nearly 15 percent thanks to the arrival of the new Corolla.

Small-volume car production was also up a healthy 16.2 percent, to more than 30,000 cars. This is thanks to the success of sports car brands such as McLaren and Lotus, plus luxury brands like Bentley and Rolls-Royce.  

Why wrapping your car could invalidate your insurance

Wrapping car could invalidate insurance

Your insurance could be void if your car has wrapped and you don’t declare it. That’s because, like any other change made to your car post-registration, a wrap is classed as a modification – and all modifications must be declared when taking out an insurance policy.

Wraps have leapt in popularity in recent years as a way for owners to change the appearance of their car without doing so permanently. It’s also less work than a respray and therefore cheaper.

Wrapping car could invalidate insurance

Companies have had vans and business vehicles wrapped for years, with corporate colours, advertisements and contact details. However, companies that wrap private vehicles, like Yiannimize, have shot to success.

But why would a wrap invalidate your insurance? It doesn’t increase the performance of the car, and shouldn’t inhibit the car’s safety. It could, however, be problematic for security. Wrapped your car in a bright colour? That’s good for making it stand out to your friends and onlookers, but bad for making it stand out to thieves.

Thus, a wrap could increase the cost of your premium. Jardine Motors Group says it could hike the price of your cover by 15 percent. And some insurers won’t actually cover you, meaning you’ll have to consult a specialist.

Wrapping car could invalidate insurance

“We find a lot of companies don’t even know what a wrap is but there are specialist ones out there,” said Duncan Richards, spokesperson for Autoshine and Tinting.

“We’ve had customers say, ‘My current insurer won’t insure it, they’ve cancelled my policy’. We’ve had others who haven’t even charged extra for so each insurance company is just different.”

As well as the declaration to your insurance company, the DVLA will also need to be made aware. As a wrap is often a full colour change, the car’s V5C needs to be updated to match.

New 2020 Seat Leon can ‘talk’ to traffic lights

Seat Leon 'talks' to traffic lights

Ever pulled up to a traffic light that you know should be green, but it stays red and makes you stop? Seat might have the answer. The firm has trialled technology that allows cars to ‘talk’ to traffic lights, using the new Leon in Barcelona. The aim is to improve road safety, traffic flow and fuel-efficiency.

The new tech allows the Leon to let its driver know when a light is going to change colour. On the approach to the traffic lights, the connected Leon was able to alert its driver to whether the light would be red, green or amber when the car arrived. That allowed for better forward planning on the part of the driver.

It does so by recognising the distance from the light and speed the car is travelling, then combining that with real-time traffic data.

Seat Leon 'talks' to traffic lights

“Queuing at traffic lights can be a frustrating process and it always feels like a ‘win’ when you manage to time your driving perfectly for when the lights go green,” said Jordi Caus, head of urban mobility concepts at Seat.

“With this project we’re taking a first step to connect cars with overall traffic infrastructure.

“Seat’s new connected cars receive real-time traffic information from the Traffic Authority’s central cloud, including information displayed on motorway panels or the traffic light status in cities.

“The traffic light sends a signal to the Traffic Authority’s cloud about its current status and when it is going to change.”

Seat Leon 'talks' to traffic lights

The process, known as ‘V2I’ (Vehicle to Infrastructure), allows connected cars to communicate with their environment in just 300 milliseconds.

It also allows authorities to broadcast messages to cars. Imagine such a facility on the UK’s smart motorways, paired with improved stopped vehicle detection.

Seat Leon 'talks' to traffic lights

“It improves safety by providing advanced information about traffic lights turning red depending on your speed and therefore avoids abrupt braking,” Caus continued.

“This trial showcases how Seat is looking at ways to use technology and data over human intuition to improve traffic flow, road safety and fuel efficiency.”

Skoda Kamiq and Scala get Monte Carlo makeover

Skoda Scala and Kamiq Monte CarloSkoda’s range of small family cars expanded in 2019, with the introduction of the Kamiq crossover and Scala hatchback. Now, to cement those models in the lineup, Skoda has given the pair a Monte Carlo makeover. 

Monte Carlo has been the sporty visual and equipment upgrade on smaller Skoda models for a decade, first arriving with the second-generation Fabia. Available with a variety of engines, the Monte Carlo trim adds sporty aesthetics and more equipment to the standard specs.

Skoda Scala and Kamiq Monte Carlo

That hasn’t changed with the Scala and Kamiq, with the Monte Carlo spec available on the 1.0-litre TSI and 1.5-litre TSI, with manual and DSG transmissions available.

Typical to Monte Carlo spec is a selection of gloss black detailing. This includes all of the brightwork, like the grille, door mirrors and window trims. There’s a sportier bumper up front, and at the back, there’s a black diffuser and boot lettering, too. Big 18-inch black alloy wheels, a panoramic roof, full LED headlights and rear lights join as added equipment and luxuries.

Skoda Scala and Kamiq Monte Carlo

On the inside, dramatic colour-coded Porsche-esque sports seats join a sports steering wheel and aluminium pedals. At night, red ambient lighting adds to the sporty feel. The virtual cockpit instrument cluster comes along with Monte Carlo spec, as well as the Amundsen infotainment system with a 9.2-inch display. In the Scala exclusively, chrome surrounds appear on the air vents.

Kamiq Monte Carlo prices start at £23,305 for the entry-level manual 1.0-litre TSI, and swell to £25,955 for the 1.5 petrol DSG. The Scala is similarly priced, with a saving of around £500 at every level. It opens at £22,680 for the 1.0 manual, and swells to £25,350 for the DSG 1.5. You can order both now, with deliveries expected to begin in the spring.

 

Styles Solar Van world's first electric ice cream van

Sundae driver: meet the world’s first solar-powered ice cream van

Styles Solar Van world's first electric ice cream van

The Styles Solar Van is the first solar- and battery-powered ice cream van. The eco-friendly vehicle will debut at the Ice Cream and Artisan Food Show in Harrogate from 11-13 February.

Designed by David Baker, owner of Styles Farmhouse Ice Cream, the van has a zero-emissions generator to prevent diesel fumes when parked up.

Styles Solar Van world's first electric ice cream van

“I listened to our customers – event organisers and show directors – who did not want their visitors to inhale fumes from a diesel engine ice cream van while they were stationary selling ice cream,” he said.

“So, I went looking for a solution. After a great deal of research and development, I created a successful system using solar panels and batteries.”

The van is based on a Peugeot Boxer with a diesel engine. The ‘A to B’ motoring is handled by that, but when you’re moored up and ready to serve scoops, David’s generator kicks in. Solar panels and batteries power the freezers and Mr Softee maker, plus the coffee and slush machines.

Styles Solar Van world's first electric ice cream van

Initial prototype testing used four solar panels, but for the 2019 version that was upped to eight. Summer 2019 saw the van put to the test at events such as Glastonbury and the Henley Regatta.

The results were impressive. The van ran emissions-free for six days with good sun coverage, and two-to-three days with cloud cover. Plug it into the mains and the batteries are replenished in four hours.

You can order a Styles Solar Van now and have it delivered in the summer. No prices are available yet, although they will let you know on application.

Asda cuts fuel prices by 3p per litre

Asda fuel savings 2020

Recent rises in fuel costs have been reversed by supermarket chain Asda, which has cut pump prices for petrol and diesel by 3p per litre. The discount applies from today (January 29).

That means Asda fuel stations across the country will be offering petrol at 120p per litre, and diesel at 124p per litre.

fuel prices drop coronavirus

“Average UK petrol and diesel pump prices have been at their highest for a January since 2014 and, despite wholesale costs declining over the past two to three weeks, they have stayed stubbornly above 128p a litre for petrol and 132.5p for diesel,” said Luke Bosdet, the AA’s fuel price spokesman.

“This new price cut is in line with wholesale petrol falling from an average of 39.4p a litre in early January to the 37.0p between Wednesday and Friday last week.”

As the RAC reported, the drops in the cost of fuel could partially be down to the rise of the Coronavirus in China, and the resulting sharp drop in travel. Less travel means increased supply, which means a lower price. This followed the tensions between America and Iran causing fuel prices to jump in the early weeks of January.

Fuel vouchers in January: ‘quite simply mean’Diesel car fuel filler

Bosdet goes on to criticise other supermarkets that are passing on savings to customers in a roundabout way. Fuel vouchers mean that drivers can get 5p off per litre of fuel they buy, but only if they spend a certain amount in-store.

“Once again, if you’re on a low income and your spending power isn’t up to it, you miss out,” Bosdet followed.

“Given the time of year with customers trying to pay off Christmas debts and fuel costs falling dramatically, that discrimination is quite simply mean.”