MG UK auto retail showroom

Auto industry calls to reopen car showrooms

DS Store in Manchester. Car showrooms are spacious areas that are as safe as garden centres, says the industry trade body

The UK automotive industry is calling on the government to give almost 5,000 car showrooms in Britain the green light to urgently reopen, deeming them as safe as garden centres.

Trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says auto retailers are ready to go back to work with social distancing and hygiene measures already in place.

It calculates the daily cost of car showrooms remaining closed to be £61 million, due to lost VAT income and furlough payments for almost 600,000 employees.

“The sector is now ready to return to work,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“Car showrooms, just like garden centres, are spacious and can accommodate social distancing easily, making them some of the UK’s safest retail premises.”

MG UK auto retail showroom

Mr Hawes said a green light to reopen would stimulate consumer confidence and restart the sale of new cars.

In April 2020, new car registrations were down 97.3 percent.

“Car sales act as the engine for manufacturing and reopening showrooms is an easy and relatively safe next step to help get the economy restarted.

“With every day of closure another day of lost income for the industry, we see no reason for delay.”

The SMMT is backing its call with a campaign called ’10 reasons to #unlockukauto’, highlighting the importance of reopening car showrooms.

This is aimed at encouraging ministers to clear car dealers to reopen, and outlines some of the measures retailers have put in place during the past few weeks.

These include one-way walkways, shielding, contactless transactions, cleaning and test-drive processes, appointment systems and revised showroom layouts.

Many retailers are already offering ‘click and collect’ facilities.

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Technician spraying an anti-baterial mist into a vehicle

Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall launch anti-viral cleaning service

Technician spraying an anti-baterial mist into a vehicle

Peugeot, Citroen, DS and Vauxhall dealers have introduced a new service to give cars an anti-bacterial clean to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Complete Anti-Bacterial Refresh service includes a full clean of the air conditioning system to both remove bugs and lockdown-induced odours.

Pollen filters in the vehicles will also be replaced: these cleanse the air and remove dust, as well as keeping pollen at bay.

Technicians will carry out a 29-point vehicle health check, including tyres, battery condition, brakes and engine drive belts.

At the end of the service, cars will be fully disinfected before handover, both outside and in.

The service costs £99 and Peugeot, Citroen, DS and Vauxhall owners can book their car in to their local retailer online.

Groupe PSA, the parent company behind the brands, says it is offering the service as travel restrictions begin to lift.

The aim is to ensure cars left stationary during lockdown are safe, and also that occupants can travel in the safest possible environment.

All Group PSA technicians follow social distancing guidelines, adds the firm. Contactless vehicle drop-offs can be arranged, plus a car collection and delivery service from home or work.  

The four firms have all set up dedicated pages for owners keen to take up the Complete Anti-Bacterial Refresh service:

Peugeot: www.peugeot.co.uk/peugeotrefresh/   

Citroen: www.citroen.co.uk/owner-services/ownership-offers/complete-anti-bacterial-refresh

DS: www.dsautomobiles.co.uk/services/ownership-promotions  

Vauxhall: www.vauxhall.co.uk/owners/offers/vauxhall-refresh.html

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Volvo XC60 safety crash test

Euro NCAP announces ‘game-changing’ new safety tests for 2020

Volvo XC60 safety crash test

Safety organisation Euro NCAP has announced stringent new standards for crash tests from 2020 which include assessing the impact of big vehicles on smaller ones.

Reflecting the growth in popularity of larger, heavier SUVs, the new test comprises a moving barrier which the moving test vehicle collides with.

It replaces a ‘static’ barrier test used by Euro NCAP for the past 23 years and allows testers to judge how the test vehicle contributes to injuries in the other vehicle.

Called the compatibility test, the UK’s Thatcham Research has been a lead partner in creating the new regime.

“Historically, SUVs and other big cars have offered very good protection to their occupants,” explained Thatcham Research’s Matthew Avery, a Euro NCAP board member.

“However, the smaller vehicles they sometimes crash into can fare less well.”

“In the new compatibility test, if the larger vehicle is too stiff in an impact scenario, it will be penalised accordingly. This levels the playing field for all vehicle sizes, which is a win-win for road safety.”

Euro NCAP 2020

A graphic showing the location of the centre airbag in the new 2020 Honda Jazz

Other changes include a new test to assess centre airbags, which are designed to protect interaction between driver and passenger in side impact tests.

Side impacts cause the second-highest rate of death or serious injury in vehicle collisions.

The new 2020 Honda Jazz, pictured above, is one of the first mainstream cars to be available with a centre airbag. 

The standards for assessing AEB autonomous emergency braking systems are raised, and Euro NCAP is to carry out the first assessments of driver alert systems.

“We believe that driver monitoring is the next big thing in active safety technology,” said Mr Avery.

Post-crash safety will be rated too, including how accurately e-call systems send rescue information to emergency services, and how easy it is to get occupants out of a crashed vehicle – this includes rating aspects such as electric door handles.

Carmakers will also be rewarded for making information on where it’s safe to cut a vehicle should extraction be required easily available.

The first tests to the new standards will be announced later this summer, after Euro NCAP testing was put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis.

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2020 SsangYong Tivoli front

2020 SsangYong Tivoli update: prices, specs and release date

2020 SsangYong Tivoli front

The updated 2020 SsangYong Tivoli has opened for ordering with prices starting from £13,995.

The improved model has new engines, a better spec and styling tweaks outside and in.

First launched in June 2015, the 20-model-year Tivoli comes with two new petrol engines, a 1.2-litre turbo and 1.5-litre turbo.

The 1.2-litre GDi-T is a three-cylinder motor producing 128hp. It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox and averages 40.4mpg.

2020 SsangYong Tivoli rear

The 1.5-litre GDi-T is a four-cylinder engine producing 163hp. It has a standard manual gearbox and an optional automatic. Fuel economy isn’t far behind the 1.2 GDi-T at up to 39.2mpg.

SsangYong has also improved the existing 136hp 1.6-litre turbodiesel. It averages up to 50.4mpg.

Those who tow will prefer the diesel: it can haul 1.5 tonnes, rather than the 1.0 tonnes of the two petrol versions. 

Styling front and rear includes a new set of rear lights, and there’s a full set of digital instruments on the range-topping variant.

Infotainment systems have been improved, with a 7.0-inch screen and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

All SsangYongs also come with a remarkable 7-year, 100,000-mile warranty

2020 SsangYong Tivoli specs

2020 SsangYong Tivoli interior

SsangYong offers three trim lines on the 2020 Tivoli, called EX, Ventura and Ultimate.

EX only uses the 1.2 GDi-T engine and costs £13,995.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, remote locking, DAB radio with Bluetooth and a safety assist pack including autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and a driver attention alert.

Ventura also only comes with the 1.2 GDi-T and costs £16,995. The basic steel wheels become 16-inch alloys, and it gains heated part-leather seats (although the leather is fake).

The stereo is upgraded to the 7.0-inch touchscreen and other luxuries include a heated steering wheel, automatic headlights, all-round parking sensors, rear parking camera and a luggage cover.

Ultimate offers either the 1.5 GDi-T or 1.6-litre diesel. It costs from £19,995 for a petrol manual, up to £22,995 for a diesel auto.

The wheels are upgraded to 18-inch alloys, interior upholstery becomes full (real) leather, dual-zone climate control is included and the new 10.25-inch smart LED instrument pack is added.

2020 SsangYong Tivoli prices

EX

1.2 GDi-T: £13,995

Ventura

1.2 GDI-T: £16,995

Ultimate

1.5 GDi-T: £19,995 (auto: + £1,500)

1.6 diesel: £21,495 (auto: + £1,500)

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London Congestion Charge

London Congestion Charge and ULEZ return from Monday 18 May

London Congestion Charge

The London Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will be reintroduced from Monday 18 May as Transport for London phases out emergency coronavirus measures.

Both charges were dropped on March 23 to help key workers get to work while avoiding public transport.

Car parking restrictions were relaxed during this period, too.

The Evening Standard reports the reintroduction of the charges comes two weeks earlier than planned.

Transport for London has also confirmed the Congestion Charge will be “temporarily” increased from £11.50 to £15 from June 22.

It will be enforced seven days a week, rather than only on weekdays, and operating hours in the evening will be extended from 6pm to 10pm.

The morning enforcement start-time of 7am will remain.

The changes follow the agreement of a £1.6 billion government support package for Transport for London, whose finances have been hit by a plunge in passenger numbers during the coronavirus crisis.

“Enormous challenges remain,” said London Transport Commissioner Mike Brown, “including agreeing longer term sustainable funding for transport in the capital.”

NHS staff

NHS workers, however, will continue to benefit from a Congestion Charge reinbursement scheme that refunds them for journeys related to coronavirus, including to and from work. 

This scheme has now been extended to support care home employees too. 

Transport for London has a dedicated page explaining how NHS staff and care home employees can be reimbursed for the London Congestion Charge

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York city centre

York wants to be the UK’s first zero-emissions city

York city centre

York is planning a bold bid to become Britain’s first 100 percent zero emissions city centre. 

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has called for at least one zero-emissions city in the coming months.And the York Labour group has contacted council leaders asking them to go ahead with a bid.

Local newspaper the York Press reports that City of York deputy leader Andy D’Agorne indicated he would support a bid.

The move would ban petrol and diesel cars, plus buses and trucks, from York city centre.

It would see York become a ‘showpiece zero-emissions city’, and benefit from millions of pounds of investment from the government.

Mr Shapps has earmarked £2 billion to encourage cycling and walking.

“Over the next few months, we will set out further measures to make a ‘once in a generation’ change to the way people travel in Britain.”

These include plans for zero-emissions cities where the centre is restricted to bicycles and electric vehicles.

The £2 billion package, he said, “represents the most significant package of cycling, walking and green travel by any British government”.

Speaking to the York Press, Labour councillor Jonny Crawshaw said: “Although Grant Shapps isn’t a natural ally of Labour, we were pleased to hear how much government thinking on future transport policy chimes with the steps York has already begun to take toward a lower-car, low-carbon, people-friendly city.”

Earlier this year, York became Britain’s city to introduce a voluntary Clean Air Zone.

It has since committed to banning private car journeys, excluding those by disabled people, by 2023.

To prepare for this, York plans to install electric car charging points in five percent of all council-owned parking spaces.

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Confirmed or cancelled? Your guide to 2020’s motoring events

Best motoring events 2020

The 2020 motoring events calendar has been thrown up in the air due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. 

Organisers of events for car enthusiasts are already postponing events or announcing rescheduled dates.

Here, we aim to highlight some of the UK’s biggest and best car shows and motorsport events of the year, along with any revised dates as they are announced.

We’ll be updating the list as more news comes in, so be sure to bookmark this page. Get in touch if you’d like us to add a motoring event you’re organising, or revise the detalis listed.

CONFIRMED FOR 2020

British Grand Prix – 26 July AND 2 August

British Grand Prix

According to Silverstone, 90 percent of fans in 2018 and 2019 rated the British Grand Prix ‘very enjoyable‘ – the highest satisfaction score for any F1 GP circuit in a post-event survey of attendees. If you want to see what the fuss is about, Lewis Hamilton and friends will be in Northamptonshire in July… with a SECOND race planned the following week, 2 August. This may lead to changes for our next event… 

Silverstone Classic – 31 July – 2 August

Silverstone Classic

To some people, this is one of the highlights of the motoring calendar – a three-day, non-stop historic motoring racing extravaganza. Once in, there’s free access to the paddocks and grandstands, with displays from more than 100 car clubs featuring more than 10,000 classic cars. 

BTCC, Donington – NEW DATES 1-2 August

BTCC

Organisers have “taken the decision to provisionally plan events from August onwards, however, the calendar will of course remain conditional upon receiving appropriate government directives”. To this end, rounds one, two and three are pencilled in for 1 and 2 August at Donington Park.

Gaydon Land Rover Show – NEW DATE 1-2 August

Hundreds of Land Rovers will be on display at the Gaydon Land Rover Show in August. It was due to take place in May. Owners can enter their vehicle for just £8, giving entry to display the Land Rover, as well as admitting the driver and one passenger to enter the show for the weekend. The event is held at the British Motor Museum, which is five minutes from junction 12 of the M40.

Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show – NEW DATE 7-9 AUGUST

Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show

The Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show brings together 1,000+ cars, 150+ car clubs and 250+ exhibitors and autojumblers. Highlights include the UK’s biggest ‘barn-find’ display, the Practical Classics Live Stage and the Lancaster Insurance Pride of Ownership competition. It will now take place in August.

Ford Fair – 9 August

Ford Fair

Ford Fair is Europe’s biggest Ford event, with around 4,000 cars and 18,000 guests expected to flood Silverstone. You can expect the usual mix of showroom-quality vehicles, sprint tests and track time.

Ultimate Street Car – 7-9 August

Ultimate Street Car

Ultimate Street Car (USC) at Santa Pod Raceway is the ‘largest, loudest, hottest and fastest modified car festival in Europe’. Expect drifting, stunt displays, drag racing, music and tyre smoke. Lots and lots of tyre smoke.

Classic & Performance Car Spectacular – NEW DATE 15-16 August

Classic and Performance Car Spectacular

Tatton Park, Cheshire, is the venue for the Classic & Performance Car Spectacular on 15 and 16 August. Around 2,000 cars will be on display, along with 250 stalls and 90+ clubs. If you miss this one, Tatton Park will also play host to a Classic American show in July and a ‘Passion for Power’ show in August.

London Concours – NEW DATE 19-20 August

London Concours

Billed as the ‘ultimate automotive summer garden party’ London Concours takes place at the Honourable Artillery Company, in the heart of the city. Around 130 high-end classics and supercars were on show last year, from the ‘Beast of Turin’ to the latest Ferraris and Lamborghinis. Tickets for the 2020 event, which has moved to August, are on sale now, priced from £40.

CarFest Festival – NEW DATE 28-30 August

CarFest North

The organisers have decided to combine CarFest North and CarFest South to create one big event: CarFest United. It will be held at Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire across the weekend of 28 to 30 August 2020. The organisers say it will be “like the Cup Final“.

Concours of Elegance – 4-6 September

Concours of Elegance

The Concours of Elegance 2020 will take place at Hampton Court Palace in September, with 60 of the rarest cars ever built lining up in the Fountain Gardens. Many of the entrants will also take part in a two-day driving tour in the days running up to the main event.

Beaulieu International Autojumble – 5-6 September

Beaulieu

If rummaging for oily car parts is your idea of a dirty weekend, the International Autojumble is the event for you. Some 2,000 stands are expected to fill the grounds of the Beaulieu Motor Museum, making it the biggest outdoor sale of motoring items this side of the Atlantic.

Goodwood Revival – 11-13 September

Goodwood Revival

Step back in time at the Goodwood Revival. Visitors are encouraged to dress in period clothing at this event celebrating the golden era of motorsport. Tickets are available now and you’re advised to book early to avoid disappointment.

Le Mans 24 Hours – NEW DATE 19-20 September

Le Mans 24 Hours

The 88th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours will now take place on 19 and 20 September. Le Mans is located less than three hours from the ferry terminals at Cherbourg, St-Malo and Le Havre. The exact schedule for the revised date is to be confirmed.

Simply British Classics – 20 September

Simply British Classics

Two new events have been added to Beaulieu’s ‘Simply’ range of motoring events. Simply British Classics takes place on 20 September, while Simply BMW is a couple of months earlier on 19 July. There are other events throughout the year, including Simply Ford, Simply Land Rover and Simply Japanese.

Salon Prive – NEW DATE 23-26 September

Salon Prive

Salon Prive is a motoring event for fans of superlatives. ‘The most luxurious of garden parties set against the backdrop of Britain’s greatest palace (Blenheim Palace). Presenting the finest collection of supercars, hypercars and classic cars, along with a luxury retail village and exquisite cuisine, it is a truly unique experience’. Tickets are priced accordingly…

Truckfest – 10-11 October

Truckfest

The TruckFest calendar draws to a close at the Wolsingham Showground in October, but there are seven other opportunities to get your trucking fix. The TruckFest year kicks off at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern in May, before rolling into Edinburgh, Kent, Peterborough, Shepton Mallet, Knutsford and Newark. Keep an eye on the TruckFest website for the latest information.

Wales Rally GB – 29 October – 1 November

Wales Rally GB

The 12th round of the FIA World Rally Championship drops in on Wales in October and November. Wales Rally GB takes place over four days of competition and each day is divided into a number of ‘Special Stages’.

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run – 1 November

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

This year’s London to Brighton run takes place on 1 November, with veteran cars arriving at London’s Hyde Park before sunrise. From there, they will set off for the 60-mile journey to Brighton. Any car registered before 1 January 1905 is eligible to do the run.

Classic Motor Show – 13-15 November

Classic Motor Show

If you’re looking for a reason to keep your classic on the road over winter, this could be it. The Classic Motor Show is held at the Birmingham NEC, where more than 3,000 classics are expected to go on display in an area the size of 18 football pitches.

Fully Charged Live – NEW DATE 30 November-1 October

Fully Charged Live Farnborough 2020

Robert Llewellyn’s Fully Charged Live, Britain’s biggest electric car show, has outgrown its base at Silverstone. For 2020, the EV event will move to Farnborough International, with the organisers planning to show every electric vehicle available in the UK. More than 150 exhibitors are set to attend the show during its revised autumn date.

Please get in touch if you’d like to see your event included in our next update. Happy motoring.

POSTPONED – PENDING NEW DATES

The following events have been postponed, pending new dates from the organisers.

Goodwood 78th Members’ Meeting – POSTPONED

Originally scheduled for 28-29 March, organisers of the 78th Goodwood Members’ Meeting have announced the event is postponed. It is hoped to run it later in the year. The Bonhams auction due to take place will still run, albeit behind closed doors.

Land Rover Legends – POSTPONED

Land Rover Legends

The third edition of Land Rover Legends has been postponed. All tickets will be valid for a rescheduled event, which will celebrate 50 years of the Range Rover and the 40th anniversary of the UK launch of the V8-powered Stage 1 109.

Goodwood Festival of Speed – POSTPONED

Goodwood Festival of Speed

In 1993, Lord March hosted a hillclimb in the grounds of Goodwood House in Sussex and created the Festival of Speed. It has grown to become one of the world’s biggest and most famous motoring events, but the hillclimb remains central to its appeal. This year’s Festival of Speed has been postponed, but Goodwood hopes to reschedule it later in the year.

MG Live – POSTPONED

MG Live

Organised by the MG Car Club, MG Live is the world’s biggest event for MG owners. This year’s event has been postponed, with the organisers working with Silverstone to find suitable options to reschedule the event.

Donington Historic Festival – POSTPONED

Donington Historic Festival

The Donington Historic Festival has been postponed to an alternative date later in the year. The new date has yet to be confirmed. You’re advised to keep an eye on the website and social media channels for the latest updates.

Japfest – POSTPONED

Japfest

Europe’s biggest Japanese car show has been postponed. The organisers have said that all existing bookings can be carried forward to Trax on the 4 October or used for a future event.

CANCELLED FOR 2020

The following events have been cancelled for 2020.

June Scramble, Bicester Heritage – CANCELLED

April Scramble

The Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble began as a ‘cars and coffee’ get-together but has grown to become one of the country’s biggest motoring events. You’ve missed the first Sunday Scramble of the year, and now the planned April event, originally rescheduled for 21 June, has been cancelled.

Techno-Classica Essen – CANCELLED

Techno-Classica Essen

Techno-Classica Essen is a European classic car show with a global reputation, with around 1,250 exhibitors from 30 countries. In 2019, the event attracted 190,000 visitors from 46 different nations. Essen is a four- to five-hour drive from Calais, and has now become a summertime event.

Monaco Historic Grand Prix – CANCELLED

The Grand Prix de Monaco Historique (or Monaco Historic Grand Prix) takes place every other year. This year would have marked the 12th edition of the prestigious event, but it will return in 2022.

MotoFest Coventry – CANCELLED

MotoFest Coventry is ‘a unique blend of motorsport demonstrations, static displays, live music and anything else with a connection to Coventry and transport’. Brilliantly, Coventry’s ring road becomes a sprint circuit for the weekend, creating one of the best spectacles of the motoring calendar. Following its cancellation, MotoFest Coventry will now place take place on 4, 5 and 6 June 2021.

The Isle of Man TT– CANCELLED

The Isle of Man TT

The fastest road race on the planet was due to get underway on Saturday 6 June, with qualifying scheduled for Sunday 31 May. Sadly, the Island’s chief minister has now decladed the 2020 event to be cancelled: we won’t be seeing world’s bravest riders test their mettle on the formidable 37.73-mile course this year.

Bath Festival of Motoring – CANCELLED

ColinPeachey / Shutterstock.com

Last year’s Bath Festival of Motoring played host to 500 cars and around 6,000 visitors. This year’s event has been cancelled, with the next Bath Festival of Motoring taking place on the 19 and 20 June 2021.

Bromley Pageant – CANCELLED

The Bromley Pageant is one of the world’s largest one-day classic car shows, with more than 3,000 vehicles expected to be on display in Kent. The 2020 event has been cancelled, with the next Pageant taking place on 13 June 2021.

Yorkshire Motorsport Festival – CANCELLED

Julia Bradbury Yorkshire Motorsport Festival

The organisers of the Yorkshire Motorsport Festival say they hope to offer northern motorsport enthusiasts ‘something new and different’. Following the cancellation of the 2020 event, the Festival will now run on 25 to 27 June 2021. The event host was due to be former Top Gear presenter Julia Bradbury.

Auto Royale – CANCELLED

Auto Royale Althorp is “a true ‘festivalised’ event which will attract the very affluent and high net worth collectors along with ABC1 owners and enthusiasts of the automotive lifestyle”. Up to 150 cars from Britain and overseas were set to compete for a range of traditional class awards, special celebration awards and the coveted Best in Show. The event will now place in summer 2021.

Classics on the Common – CANCELLED

For one Wednesday every July, Harpenden is invaded by classic cars as it plays host to the UK’s largest weekday car show. Unfortunately, the event won’t take place in 2020, but it’s likely to return on 28 July 2021.

Festival of the Unexceptional – CANCELLED

Festival of the Unexceptional

This year’s Festival of the Unexceptional has been cancelled. Owners of unexceptional cars of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s are invited back in July 2021.

Events you’ve missed: save the date for next year 

Haynes Breakfast Club – 2 February

Haynes breakfast club

Car fans in the South and South West will be converging on the Haynes Motor Museum for the second Breakfast Club of the year. The museum, which is located just off the A303 in Somerset, is home to around 400 cars, while the cafe opens at 8.30am on Breakfast Club Sundays. These events are free to attend and held on the first Sunday of each month.

Retromobile – 5-9 February

Retromobile 2020

Retromobile is held in the largest and most prestigious hall at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Centre, Paris – a location befitting an event of this stature. This year, the show will celebrate Aston Martin, the Volkswagen Combi and the fabulous Automotoclub Storico Italiano Bertone collection.

Great Western Classic Car Show – 8-9 February

Great Western Classic Car Show

The Footman James Great Western Classic Car Show is the biggest event of its kind in the South West of England, with thousands of car enthusiasts converging on the Royal Bath & West Showground near Shepton Mallet.

Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show – 18-23 February

Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show

The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show is the largest showcase of motorhomes, campervans, caravans, caravan holidays and lodges in the UK. The latest 2020 touring caravans and motorhomes will be on display, along with a Camping Zone and a display of electric ride-ons. Head to Birmingham’s NEC if caravans are your thing.

London Classic Car Show – 20-23 February

London Classic Car Show

The London Classic Car Show is moving to a new venue at Olympia London. The four-day event will celebrate 40 years of the Audi Quattro, with five examples of the legendary car on display in the capital. The show will also introduce a new Car Stories feature, which celebrates six of the world’s most iconic vehicles. On display this year will be the Porsche 962C, Lotus 49 and Maserati 250F.

Race Retro – 21-23 February

Race Retro

At the end of February, all motorsport roads will lead to Stoneleigh Park for the Race Retro international historic motorsport show. Highlights include a live rally stage, ‘arrive and drive a classic car’, Pride of the Paddock and a Silverstone Auctions sale.

Drive It Day – 26 April

Drive It Day

On Sunday 26 April, thousands of classic cars will take to the road for the annual Drive It Day. First introduced by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs in 2005, the date is as close as possible to the anniversary of the 1,000 Mile Trial – an event that saw vintage motor cars drive from London to Edinburgh and back.

Diesel 4x4 badge

Diesel car numbers down for first time in 25 years

Diesel 4x4 badge

The number of diesel cars registered for use in Britain has fallen for the first time since 1995, new figures from the Department for Transport reveal.

Latest data shows there were 111,000 fewer diesel cars on UK roads in 2019 compared with 2018.

Petrol car numbers, by contrast, grew by more than 300,000.

The decline in diesel is set to grow. Last year, new diesel car registrations declined nearly 22 percent over 2018, according to the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders.

Diesel took a 25 percent market share in 2019, its lowest since 2003.

Between 2016 and 2019, new diesel car sales have almost halved, and the month-on-month fall has been unbroken for a full three years.

Electric cars on the up

Electric car numbers, however, are rising rapidly. In just one year, they grew more than 160 percent, from 55,000 to 89,000.

Plug-in hybrid numbers grew, too.

However, electric car sales need to rise even more rapidly if the UK is to meet its 2050 net zero carbon emissions target, warns the Transport Research Laboratory.

“There is encouraging data that their number is rising, but this trend must gain momentum, not lose it,” says the organisation.

It welcomed a recent government commitment to roll out rapid charging on every 20 miles of motorways and A-roads, plus the ongoing Plug-in Car Grant.

Further TRL research also showed that 80 percent of everyday motorists would consider an electric car if its range increased to 200 miles.

Also, 90 percent would consider switching to an EV if the range was 300 miles.

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MOT sign

Call to end 6-month MOT extension ‘as soon as possible’

MOT sign

The six-month MOT extension brought in to help keep key workers mobile during the coronavirus lockdown should be ended as soon as possible, says trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

“With government advice stating that works should avoid public transport when returning to work,” said chief executive Mike Hawes, “the use of private cars is likely to rise.

“Given many of these vehicles have been idle for weeks, a reconsideration of the six-month MOT extension neds to be made as soon as possible.”

The extension saw MOTs that expired during the lockdown automatically extended by six months.

The rule change was introduced on 30 March and is currently in force until March 2021. This means that any MOT expiring until then will be granted an automatic six-month extension.

In the interests of safety and vehicle reliability, the SMMT believes the regular annual MOT check needs to recommence quickly. This would see the current emergency legislation withdrawn again. 

Roadworthiness risks

Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry, echoed the SMMT’s call.

“Whilst the motives for the initiative were sound at that time, there are serious risks in the extension remaining in place now.

“First and foremost, if vehicles are coming back onto the roads in volume, it is vital for all road users’ safety that they are roadworthy.

“The other issue is that if all motorists wait up to 6 months from when their MOT expired to get their vehicle tested, there is going to be a big backlog of tests in the autumn and winter, which could significantly overwhelm the sector.”

Mr Hawes said the sector has now introduced coronavirus safety guidance to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“It is timely that the aftermarket can assure customers and colleagues that it is ready to reopen safely to ensure workers’ vehicles remain roadworthy.”

The sector is ready to cope with a “significant ramp-up in demand,” he added.

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When are McDonald’s drive-thru restaurants opening?

McDonald's drive-thruMcDonald’s has announced plans to reopen its UK restaurants – including the drive-thru service.

All McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland were closed down two months ago in response to the coronavirus pandemic. From today (Wednesday 13 May), the company begins a gradual return to business. 

The process begins with 15 pilot sites in the south-east of England, which will offer delivery via Uber Eats. There will be a £25 order cap (to support smaller teams and social distancing), while seating areas, car parks and drive-thrus will remain closed.

McDonald’s plans to add a further 30 outlets from Wednesday 20 May – the date drive-thru lanes will also start to reopen. 

“Moving in step with government guidelines, we plan to reopen all our drive-thrus by early June,” says the company. “We will keep the restaurant locator on our website updated as our drive-thrus reopen over the coming weeks.”

McDonald's drive-thruFrom 20 May, there will also be a £25 spending limit for drive-thru customers, with customers encouraged to use contactless payment.

However, it’s worth noting that paying via your smartphone in a drive-thru is illegal – and could land you with six penalty points and a £200 fine. Police advice is to switch off your car’s engine and engage the handbrake if you wish to pay via Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland, said: “When your local drive-thru does reopen, it will be different. Our service will not be as quick as you might be used to. We expect there will be some queues for some of our busier sites and our restaurants will look different, with Perspex screens at our drive-thru windows and employees wearing protective equipment.”

As McDonald’s sites – usually at motorway services – are the unofficial offices of Motoring Research, we look forward to decent coffee and wi-fi again. But the point where restuaurants fully reopen is still some months away…

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