Nearly half think electric cars should make engine noises

What sound should electric cars make?

A recent survey reveals 43 percent of drivers think electric cars should sound like their petrol and diesel-powered equivalents.

The study by Venson asked about a standardised noise of EV ‘engine’. In total, 23 percent said they wanted a continuous low-decibel sound, while six percent said they wanted something completely different.

Options included for that included classical music, whale song, and ocean waves…

What sound should electric cars make?

A new law, due to come into effect by July 2021, mandates that an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) must be fitted to all electric or hybrid vehicles. EU drivers will also be able to manually trigger a warning sound, as they could a horn, only less urgent in sound.

Seventy percent of those surveyed said this sound should simply be a horn, while 13 percent said a warning phrase like ‘EV approaching’ would do the trick. Six percent said they’d like an animal sound.

Generally speaking, the prevailing view is that cars should make car noises, then…

What noise should electric cars make?

“The integration of AVAS into hybrid and electric vehicles is a very positive move,” said Alison Bell, marketing director for Venson Automotive Solutions.

“Almost silent electric and hybrid cars put vulnerable road users at risk, especially children, the partially sighted and blind.

“With over 100 years of petrol and diesel engine sounding vehicles on our roads, people naturally react to the sound of an approaching vehicle or a horn being sounded. Keeping sounds we are used to hearing on UK roads makes the most sense when it comes to road safety and saving lives.”

Opinion: Why must we go back for the future?

Morris JE electric van

‘A retro-styled electric masterpiece’, reads one headline for the Morris JE van. ‘Brilliantly retro’, says another. ‘Retro-cute’ and ‘the cutest electric van I’ve ever seen’ concludes this quartet of rather gushing and sickly-sweet intros.

I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying it. Quite literally, given the fact that the JE van is expected to sell for around £60,000 in 2021.

It’s a ‘reimagining of the original [and] iconic’ J-type van, says Morris Commercial, before describing the 1950s classic as ‘unapologetically distinctive’.

What’s the obsession with reimagining stuff from our past? What next, a reimagining of other distinctive elements of 1950s Britain, such as polio, pea-soupers and women tied to the twin-tub washing machine?

Mind you, there’s no knowing what Britain will look like two years from now.

Putting aside the pros and cons of electric vehicles for a moment, shouldn’t the designs be forward-thinking, progressive and challenging? I’m not sure a van that looks like something Mr Tumble might drive is going to do much for the EV market.

Morris JE van

The company claims it will appeal to a wide range of customers, but the list is exhausting, if not exhaustive.

Small boutique businesses, larger corporate fleets, luxury and lifestyle brands, the hospitality industry, the sport and leisure industry, high-end manufacturing, the events industry and green logistics.

And… breathe. Anyone for a game of monkey tennis?

Of those, who is going to want to drop £60k on Mr Tumble’s company wheels? I can’t see an artisan coffee company ditching the H-van for one of these. Is a fleet buyer going to say “no thank you” to the resources and support of Volkswagen, Renault, Nissan and the like?

The figures don’t add up. A range of 200 miles and a one-tonne payload might look acceptable in 2019, but the technology should have moved on by 2021. The LDV EV30 boasts another name from Britain’s ‘glorious past’, 200 miles of range and a one-tonne payload. The price? Rumoured to be in the region of £30,000.

Morris Commercial says it will create “an individuality in a market where dull, generic design is normal”. Which is one way of justifying an exorbitant price tag and a dashboard that looks straight outta LazyTown.

Vans are ‘dull’ and ‘generic’ because that’s what the market wants. These vehicles are built to do a job on time, reliably, efficiently and without fuss. Sure, there’s a place for vans without ‘clean me‘ perma-scrawled into the dirt on the back doors – I know folk who love their vans more than their family car.

It’s just that most vans I see look like they’ve been used as target practice at the local paintballing centre within a few months of hitting the road. How is the JE’s carbon-fibre body going to withstand even the lightest of damage?

I don’t doubt the hard work that’s gone into creating this ‘masterpiece’. But harking back to a bygone era hints at a lack of creativity and an absence of ideas. Besides, I have a feeling the ‘retro-cute’ market will be swallowed up by Volkswagen’s Buzz Cargo thingy.

I could be wrong (and it wouldn’t be the first time). Maybe the commercial sector is waiting for Mr Tumble to roll into LazyTown in a blaze of zero emission glory. Me, I’m just waiting for someone to unearth a barn-find Bedford CF Electric.

Vauxhall offers £15 winter check for any car

Vauxhall all makes winter check-up

Vauxhall is offering a winter check-up for £15, and you don’t need to drive a Vauxhall to get one. All makes are included, from Ford to Ferrari, or Lexus to Lamborghini.

It will consist of a 29-point visual inspection from a Vauxhall technician, to make sure your car is ready for the colder weather.

They will check the battery, lights and heating. They will also look for ways that potholes could have damaged your car, including the tyres, wheels and suspension.

Vauxhall all makes winter check-up

Six fluids – screen wash, anti-freeze, oil, brake fluid, clutch fluid and power steering fluid – will also be checked and topped up if need be.

You’ll pay a maximum of £15 for the checkover, although there is a benefit to being a Vauxhall driver and member of the service club. They pay just £10.

Vauxhall all makes winter check-up

You’ll spend 8 MONTHS of your life stuck in traffic

British drivers stuck in traffic

If you drove to or from work today, the chances are you encountered some traffic along the way. But have you ever stopped to wonder just how long you spend top to toe in tailbacks? ‘Stopped’ being the operative word.

EIGHT MONTHS. You’ll spend eight months of your life stuck in traffic, staring at the rear lights of a compact crossover, wondering if you’ll make it home in time for The One Show

A study of 2,000 motorists found that we spend two months searching for a parking space and the equivalent of one year driving to work. Maybe it’s time to consider working from home.

Overall, you could spend nearly four years behind the wheel, racking up almost 600,000 miles in the process. This is still less than the mileage on the cab that took you home from the pub on Friday night.

A life in cars

UK traffic jam

The Webuyanycar.com study is quite revealing – and a little depressing. While it would be nice to think that time behind the wheel involves picturesque coastal drives, cruising along with the top down and banging tunes on the stereo, the reality is quite different.

Here are some of the figures:

  • Miles driven: 592,920
  • Time spent in car: 3.7 years
  • Time on the motorway: 11 months
  • Time on country lanes: 12.2 months
  • Time in cities: 10.4 months
  • Sitting in traffic: 8 months
  • Finding a parking space: 2 months
  • Driving to work: 12 months
  • Driving around lost: 15 days

Richard Evans, head of technical services at Webuyanycar.com, said: “This research highlights how much of our lives revolve around our cars. Driving almost 600,000 miles is no mean feat and we are tested on a daily basis with congestion, squabbling children, work demands and elusive parking spaces.

“For many of us our cars are a lifeline and we will experience a number of key life moments behind the wheel.”

The cars that doomed the company

Cars that doomed the company

The straw that broke the camel’s back. For every failed car manufacturer, there’s a last chance saloon (or hatchback): one final shot at glory before the ship sinks without a trace. The following 15 cars were complicit in the demise of their maker, either through financial overreaching, being the right car at the wrong time, or just being plain rubbish.

NSU Ro80

Cars that doomed the company

The NSU Ro80 was a brilliant car that was way ahead of its time. The six-light glasshouse still looks fresh today, while the suspension was both innovative and sophisticated. Unfortunately, the Ro80 was hamstrung by a woefully unreliable rotary engine, which forced NSU into replacing hundreds of motors under warranty. Facing catastrophic losses, NSU was bought by Volkswagen, and the famous German name all but disappeared. NSU managed to sort the reliability issues, but it was too little, too late.

AMC Pacer

Cars that doomed the company

Did the Pacer kill the American Motors Corporation (AMC)? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s fair to say that its arrival coincided with the downfall of a company that once boasted a 7.5 percent share of the U.S. new car market. In 1976, the Pacer’s first full year of sales, AMC sold 177,724 units of the aerodynamic ‘wide car‘, out of a total of 283,255 cars. It was a false dawn, with sales slumping to 58,264 in 1977 and never recovering. It died in 1980, with AMC going under in 1987. Sure, the cost of the Pacer’s development put a strain on finances, but there were other forces behind the company’s demise.

MG XPower SV-R

Cars that doomed the company

MG’s Changing Rooms transformation of an ageing Rover product range into a trio of desirable performance cars was rather impressive. Buoyed by this success, MG set about creating a rear-wheel-drive version of a front-wheel-drive saloon (and fitting a V8), embarking on an ambitious Le Mans project, and creating a halo product to take on the likes of Porsche, Jaguar and Maserati. The SV was good, but not £75,000 good. The SV-R was even better, but not £83,000 better. In fairness, the XPower cars didn’t kill the company – they merely injected some Hollywood-style drama into the collapse.

Pontiac Aztek

Cars that doomed the company

The last Pontiac Aztek rolled off the production line in 2005, just five years after it made a cringeworthy debut at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show. It came to represent all that had gone wrong with a brand once synonymous with performance icons like the GTO. Focus groups warned GM against building the Aztek, but the bosses pressed on regardless. The fact that it was facelifted just five months after launch speaks volumes. GM killed Pontiac in 2009, and although the Aztek was far from the only factor behind its failure, its ugly face became the pin-up for the demise.

Panther Solo

Cars that doomed the company

The Panther Solo could have been epic. Yes, it was too expensive and lacked the brand equity of other sports cars. It was also too slow, despite being powered by the engine from a Sierra RS Cosworth. But some of the country’s best motoring writers, including Steve Sutcliffe and Andrew Frankel waxed lyrical about the Solo’s fine chassis and delightful handling. A mid-engined, four-wheel-drive sports car was way ahead of its time. Sadly, the company spent too much on its development – including a complete rethink following the launch of the cheaper and superior Toyota MR2 – so it was doomed to failure. Just 20 are believed to have been built.

Cizeta-Moroder V16T

Cars that doomed the company

Penned by Marcello Gandini, the Cizeta-Moroder V16T was the Italian designer’s vision for the Lamborghini Diablo. The 6.0-litre V12 supercar was built in Modena by a team of ex-Lamborghini employees, headed up by Claudio Zampolli, Giorgio Moroder and Gandini. There were plans to build 100 cars, but when Moroder walked away from the project, taking his money with him, the project was dead in the water. Just nine Cizetas were built.

DeLorean DMC-12

Cars that doomed the company

The DeLorean story is one of ambition, politics, scandal and fate. Running the company was former General Motors vice president, John DeLorean, an outspoken and flamboyant individual seemingly out of place in such a conservative organisation. He founded the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) in 1975, securing millions of pounds in loans, grants and investments. What followed was a catalogue of errors, bad luck and poor decisions, including the arrest of John DeLorean for conspiracy to distribute $24 million of cocaine. The DMC-12 wasn’t as good as it should and could have been, but it shouldn’t shoulder all of the blame for the company’s collapse.

Hummer H3

Cars that doomed the company

Hummer was another victim of General Motors’ post-bankruptcy restructuring in 2009. GM’s hopes of selling the company to a Chinese company fell through, leaving Hummer to face immediate termination. There was a time when a Hummer was an all-American patriot – a status symbol for flag-waving suburbians. Launched in 2005, the H3 was a smaller, softer and more refined take on the all-action recipe, but it was too thirsty and too slow to take on a growing number of family SUVs.

Jowett Javelin

Cars that doomed the company

Jowett began producing cars and light commercial vehicles in Bradford in 1906. Forty-one years later, it built one of the most innovative cars of the post-war period, and yet the Javelin is all but forgotten. It was the first British car to boast a curved windscreen, while its aerodynamic body was years ahead of its time. Throw into the mix a tough chassis, fine handling and a vast cabin and you have the makings of a British good enough to take on the world. Unfortunately, inadequate testing led to a series of failures, killing Jowett’s reputation. Sales weren’t strong enough to cover the investment, leading to the company’s closure in 1955.

Gordon-Keeble GK1

Cars that doomed the company

The Gordon-Keeble GK1 was a handsome machine. Penned by Giugiaro, built by Bertone and powered by a Corvette V8 engine – it was backed by a dream team. The cars were built near Southampton in a building famous for the production of the Supermarine Spitfire aircraft. It could have been great, but when production commenced in 1964 – four years after its launch at the Geneva Motor Show – the company struggled with financial difficulties and was liquidated in 1965.

Cisitalia Grand Prix

Cars that doomed the company

The Cisitalia Grand Prix of 1949 – also known as the Type 360 – was a sports car so far ahead of its time, it proved to be too complex for the company to produce. At its heart was a 1.5-litre flat-12 engine with quad camshafts and two superchargers. Other features included a synchromesh gearbox and selectable four-wheel drive. Although it never raced, an article in Motor Sport Magazine claims that it “might have changed the course of GP history”. Unfortunately, it proved to be the downfall of the company famous for the beautiful 202 Berlinetta.

Lancia Beta

Cars that doomed the company

We have the Beta to blame for Lancia’s withdrawal from the UK market. The Italian car company bought back hundreds of Betas and scrapping them because of serious rust issues. It made television news and cost the company a small fortune, but the damage was longer lasting. Lancia’s image was tarnished beyond repair, and the closest we got to its return was a pair of Chrysler-badged hatchbacks.

Bricklin SV-1

Cars that doomed the company

The Bricklin SV-1 and DeLorean DMC-12 have a lot in common. Both feature gullwing doors. Both were the vision of one man. And both were funded by government money in return for the promise of mass employment. The SV-1 (Safety Vehicle One) was the brainchild of Malcolm Bricklin, known in automotive circles for founding Subaru of America. Unfortunately, production costs spiralled out of control and the company couldn’t get close to the planned 1,000 cars per month rate of production. The company fell into receivership in 1976, having received more than $20 million from the New Brunswick government.

Edsel

Cars that doomed the company

Ford spent $250 million on the Edsel, going to extraordinary lengths to ensure it didn’t fail. The problem is, nobody was really sure what the Edsel was trying to be – a case of too many chefs and not enough direction. It was also beset with quality issues, which resulted in dealer unrest and customer ambivalence. The recession didn’t help, but there’s a sense that the Edsel project was destined to fail. Edsel Ford died in November 1959, just three years after the project began.

Studebaker Avanti

Cars that doomed the company

Styled by the flamboyant industrial designer Raymond Loewy, the Studebaker Avanti (Italian for ‘forward’) was one of the most forward-looking cars America has ever produced. In supercharged form it could hit speeds nudging 170mph, while a modified version hit 196mph. It was safe, too: America’s first mass-produced fibreglass four-seat passenger car introduced the world to the likes of a built-in roll cage, padded interior and no front grille. In fairness to the Avanti, Studebaker was in trouble long before it arrived, but production issues only served to accelerate its decline. What a way to go out.

Peugeot to enter Le Mans 2022 with hybrid hypercar

Peugeot Le Mans 2022

Peugeot has announced plans to return to Le Mans once the Hypercar class is well established. The new racer will join the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Toyota GR SuperSport on the grid in 2022.

Peugeot last won Le Mans in 2009 with the diesel-powered 908 HDI FAP. It was due to race in 2012, but backed out at the eleventh hour due to budgetary constraints. The more ‘affordable’ Hypercar class means that shouldn’t happen again.

Peugeot hypercar is comingPeugeot Le Mans 2022

One of the main goals of the new Hypercar class, as well as increasing the connection between race and road cars, is to significantly cut costs. LMP racing famously became so expensive that even Porsche and Audi pulled their support in recent years.

The aim for this new WEC class is to attract more manufacturers to a cheaper, more relatable series of top-level endurance racing. It seems to be working.

The new class will allow manufacturers to choose whether they race with hybrid power. Given Peugeot’s increasing focus on electric cars, we suspect its Le Mans contender will be electrically boosted. And there will be a production Peugeot hypercar, too. The rules mandate that 20 road-going versions must be produced in order to homologate the racers. We definitely wouldn’t say no to a modern interpretation of 1989’s Oxia Concept…

Peugeot Le Mans 2022

“The Peugeot brand’s passion for motorsport has always played a core role in achieving the many victories we have scored in our history,” said Peugeot brand director, Jean-Philippe Imparato.

“The changes that the FIA WEC is introducing fit now with the transition we are undergoing ourselves with the electrification of our range and the launch of high-performance products, developed in close association with PSA Motorsport.”

Lexus self-charging hybrid ads ‘not misleading’

Lexus self-charging hybrid advert

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected complaints about Lexus and its ‘self-charging hybrid’ adverts.

A total of 25 people challenged whether the claim ‘self-charging hybrid’ was misleading because they believed it misrepresented the way in which the battery was charged.

In response, the ASA said: “Because the ads did not misrepresent the way in which the electric battery was recharged by using the petrol engine, we concluded they were not misleading.”

The complaints centred on a campaign for the Lexus UX, specifically a television advert, poster and Facebook post.

In the television ad, a voiceover said: “To capture something striking, you need to keep your eyes open, and the more you look the more you will see. So keep going. The all-new Lexus UX self-charging hybrid.”

In response to the complaints, Toyota GB said the hybrid electric vehicles use a petrol engine and and an electric motor that could operate independently to each other, as well as working in tandem.

In a statement, Toyota said it “believed that consumers would be aware that the hybrid vehicle was powered through a combination of petrol and electricity and that the ‘hybrid’ was descriptive of that dual source of power”.

Lexus UX self-charging hybrid

The ASA agreed with Toyota. “Consumers would interpret the ads to mean that the Lexus UX was a new model of ‘self-charging hybrid‘ car,” it said.

It was noted that the ads “did not include content which implied the battery was charged via plugging in”.

In conclusion, the ASA said: “We considered the ads did not contain any references to other types of car, ‘hybrid’ or otherwise, and did not make any stated or implied claims in relation to the car’s environmental impact.

”We therefore considered consumers would be unlikely to view the ads as a comparison which implied the ‘self-charging hybrid’ engine was an improvement, including by being more environmentally friendly, compared to other types of hybrid vehicle.”

The UX is the smallest of three SUVs in the Lexus range and prices start from just under £30,000. You can read our first drive review of the car here.

Morris returns after 32 years – with a £60,000 electric van

Morris JE

The new Morris JE electric van has been revealed in full and it looks as unapologetically retro as we’d hoped. Just a couple of obstacles stand in your way if you want one. Firstly, it won’t go into production until late 2021. And secondly, it will set you back around £60,000.

In spite of its quaint styling, the JE is very much a modern van, with carbon fibre panels to add strength and save weight.  A modular platform also means there can be different products spun off in future. These could include, says Morris, a pick-up, minibus and camper van.

Morris JE

The JE is also electric, of course. With an expected 200-mile range, 1,000kg payload and a 5.5 cubic-metre carrying capacity, it is decently practical. Morris says that, in spite of it being within the 2.5 tonne segment, that kind of carrying ability is something you’d ordinarily see in the 3.5 tonne class.

“It is a delight to unveil the new Morris JE to the world and for us to show what we have been working so hard to achieve,” said Dr Qu Li, CEO of Morris Commercial.

“From the outset, our vision was to bring a new concept to the LCV market, not just in terms of the battery electric powertrain, but also to introduce a timeless design that takes the aesthetics and appeal of such a vehicle to a whole new level. What we have created is a beautiful, retro design that sits upon a cutting-edge, modular BEV platform, delivering practicality and functionality to compete with the best in its segment.”

Morris JE

Still, £60,000 remains a lot of money for a small van. But while builders or tradespeople may not see the appeal, there are more premium ‘lifestyle’ applications. Morris highlights the hospitality, sport and leisure industries, along with high-end manufacturing. 

We could quite easily imagine one of these as a vegan food truck parked up in Shoreditch. They’d make appropriate additions to Goodwood’s commercial fleet, too. The right buyers could well exist for the JE, then. But they will have to wait.

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Mazda CX-30 gets ‘almost perfect’ safety score

Euro NCAP results

The latest round of Euro NCAP crash-test results has been published, and it’s good news for a range of crossovers and SUVs. However, the new Vauxhall Corsa falls short.

The Mazda CX-30 was the star performer in the tests: awarded 99 percent for adult occupant protection. Its score was, in the words of Euro NCAP’s Michiel van Ratingen, “almost perfect”.

Euro NCAP results

“There are still several cars to be rated in 2019, but it is unlikely we will see better for this part of the assessment,” remarked van Ratingen. “And congratulations to Ford and Mercedes-Benz for their five-star ratings, too.”

The GLB compact crossover is the sixth Mercedes to earn five Euro NCAP stars this year.

Ford’s Explorer SUV, which is coming to Europe as a plug-in hybrid, also achieved a five-star rating.

Euro NCAP results

Vauxhall only managed four stars for the new Corsa, an unfortunate result given it missed out on five stars by a single percentage point. The Corsa was awarded five out of five in three out of the four assessment areas, but its Safety Assist performance wasn’t quite up to scratch.

“Euro NCAP is now gearing up for new tests in 2020, but we’re confident that manufacturers will continue to deliver the highest levels of safety to their customers, said van Ratingen.”

‘Stop demonising older drivers’, says road safety charity

Older drivers shouldn't be demonised

Government figures predict the number of drivers aged over 75 to quadruple over the next 25 years. Road safety charity IAM Roadsmart is calling for a renewed debate on how to make older drivers safe behind the wheel. Discouraging older people from driving shouldn’t be considered, it says.

Quite the opposite. Driving is a way to keep older generations healthy, engaged and independent, and should be encouraged, it says. This, in spite of recent prevailing opinions suggesting that older drivers’ use of cars should be reviewed. Swansea University conducted research on the subject in 2016. It suggests that drivers aged 70 and over are four-times less likely to be in an incident than the youngest drivers on the road, up to the age of 24.

Older drivers shouldn't be demonised

The charity cites a number of reasons why older drivers are, in fact, safer. They make a lot of sense. For one, older drivers have the most experience. They tend to avoid driving during the most dangerous times or in the most dangerous conditions. They also tend to be cautious and follow the rules.

“Contrary to popular opinion the evidence is clear: older drivers remain one of the safest groups behind the wheel,” said Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research.

“So as the number of older people continues to expand at a significant rate, it’s crucial that we face up to this growing issue and develop solutions that will enable older people to stay driving for as long as they are safe to do so.”

Older drivers shouldn't be demonised

“As the population ages, we want to see the driving licence renewal age raised to 75, accompanied by an eye test to ensure the individual remains capable of identifying and reacting to any potential hazards. GPs should also be able to prescribe a driving assessment where they think it appropriate and these, in time, could become compulsory for drivers over 85.

“As a nation we need to accept that older drivers are here to stay and stop making assumptions of the kind we often see in the media and public opinion, where older drivers are demonised and openly criticised.”