Flying Bee: Bentley bees are making honey

Bentley now makes honey

You’ve heard of the ‘Bentley Boys‘, but what about the ‘Bentley Bees’?

Around 120,000 bees took up residence in Bentley’s Crewe base of operations in May. Since then they’ve been hard at work making Bentley’s latest offering. That’s right, Bentley’s bees are making honey, the first harvest of which has now arrived.

Bentley is expecting to make around 100 jars of honey from two hives. It wouldn’t be a Bentley product if it didn’t have a special touch. As such, the jars will feature a label specially designed by Bentley interior designer Louise McCallum. 

Bentley now makes honey

The honey won’t be going on sale in Bentley dealers – it’s available to employees and VIP visitors to the Crewe facility.

If you think that a beehive might be an odd thing for a car manufacturer to play host to, we wouldn’t blame you. Bentley’s logic is sound, however. 

Bentley now makes honey

Bees are one of the most important creatures in the ecosystem. Their activities spread the genetics of flowers and plants all around, helping them spread and reproduce. They’re also in a great deal of danger. So Bentley decided it would be a good idea to play host to 120,000 bees to support the biodiversity of its locale. 

“Our beekeepers have seen the bees bringing in a wide range of pollens from the wild flowers we’ve planted on our site and the local countryside,” Said Peter Bosch, Bentley’s board member for manufacturing

“This is a great sign that the location is working well and has helped make the first harvest so productive.”

Bentley now makes honey

“Our Bentley bees are part of a wider programme we’re developing to ensure that our site and business operations reflect our ambitions to become the most sustainable luxury automotive manufacturer – and we’ve had great colleague engagement with the initiative.

“We’re delighted that the initial stage of this project has been a success and we’re looking at installing more hives and increasing the amount of Bentley honey we can produce next year.  We know that every little step helps to support local biodiversity and we have plenty more ideas in the pipeline to make sure we’re playing our part”.

Bus industry wants to go zero-emission by 2025

Bus industry wants to go zero-emission by 2025

A new strategy called Moving Forward Together has been launched by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT). It aims to improve bus services, lower prices and reduce emissions. It wants to achieve the latter by committing to making every new bus it buys ultra-low or zero-emission by 2025.

If you’re wondering exactly how much of a big deal that is, let us break it down for you. The CPT is made up of operators such as Arriva, National Express, Stagecoach, First Group and Go Ahead. The group represents over 95 percent of the bus industry, with the big players alongside smaller more local operations. 

Bus industry wants to go zero-emission by 2025

“Buses are already the cleanest form of road transport and have a crucial role to play in tackling environmental issues and helping to meet important targets on improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions,” said Graham Vidler, CPT chief executive.

“With the right support from government to make the transition the bus industry will buy only ultra-low or zero emission buses by 2025, reducing CO2 emissions by half a million tonnes a year.”

That’s a lot of CO2. Not as much, however, as Vidler claims we’d save if everyone got out of their cars and onto a bus. “There would be a billion fewer car journeys and a saving of two million tonnes of CO2 a year.”

Getting people out of cars and on buses

Bus industry wants to go zero-emission by 2025

It’s fine cleaning up the buses, but you have to make the service appealing. That means more competitive pricing and the right incentives. Alongside the pledge to go ultra low, the strategy wants the government’s help improving services.

That involves legitimising local services and making them more reliable. It’s also proposing reduced travel costs for job seekers and apprentices, and price capped daily and weekly ticketing for urban areas.

Vidler added: “Better bus services are the key to shifting travel habits and growing the significant economic contribution the industry makes. We know that congestion remains the biggest barrier to increasing passenger numbers in towns and cities and that many rural communities feel current bus services don’t meet their needs.

“We’ll continue to invest in better buses with better facilities and simpler ticketing. We need government to incentivise local authorities to cut congestion and work with us to examine new ways of delivering transport services that work for more isolated communities”.

PROOF that smart motorway cameras are always on

Smart motorway cameras always on

If you wanted proof that smart motorway speed cameras are always ON, even when the gantries are off, you’ve got it. Here are pictures of a Honda Integra Type R owner getting flashed under gantries that are ‘switched off’.

The driver was a customer of Tegiwa Imports. In a Facebook post, the company said “it’s the first time we’ve seen this happen. One of our good customers recently got busted by a speed camera (HADECS 3 type) on a smart motorway without a speed being displayed on the gantry!

“Luckily he wasn’t going too fast and only received a speed awareness course.”

Smart motorway cameras always on

As you can see, his speed was 82mph, so he was well above the legal motorway speed limit. That he got flashed by a camera would ordinarily come as no surprise.

What’s curious about this is the debate surrounding smart motorway cameras. Specifically, whether they operate when a speed, or any other sign, isn’t displayed on the smart gantries. Here is undeniable proof that they’re on.

Speed cameras in the UK: the truth

Speed cameras UK

We’ve previously published a piece taking apart the myth of smart motorway cameras, as well as details on exactly how speed cameras in the UK work. A few key points are worth repeating.

Treat all cameras as if they’re always on

To assume that a camera is off when the associated displays are on seems daft. A blank display doesn’t mean there are no limits in place, so why would the camera turn off? A word to the wise: treat any and all cameras as if they’re on.

Speed cameras UK

You won’t get tagged at 72

There was a rumour that motorway speed cameras would get you at 72. While you should always stick to prescribed speed limits, this isn’t the case. There is leniency based on discrepancies in indicated speed.

Tolerances – ten percent at most

The official line is that you should stick to prescribed speed limits. For those that don’t want to take that advice, heed our warning: you’ve got ten percent on top of the speed limit, with two or three miles per hour on. Our advice is stick to the ten percent if you must exceed the limits. That’s 55, 66, 77.

Like the gentleman in the 82mph Integra Type R, venture too far beyond and you’ll be made the example.

Fiat Panda Trussardi is the first ‘luxury Panda’

New Fiat Panda Trusardi

The Italians know a thing or two about fashion. They’ve also pretty good at building small cars. So the Fiat Panda Trussardi should be a match made in heaven.

Cynics might suggest this fashionable makeover is little more than an attempt to mask the zero-star Euro NCAP rating and the fact that the current Panda should be considering retirement.

In fairness, the Panda wears its Trussardi clothing well, although what we know about fashion can be written on the back of an M&S receipt for a pair of beige slacks.

It costs £14,060, which is a lot for a Panda, but fashion doesn’t come cheap, darling.

Besides, thanks to its faux-SUV styling, it looks well equipped to deal with a rumpus in Rome, a melée in Milan and a near-miss in Napoli. Other Italian cities are available.

A luxury Panda?

Fiat Panda Trussardi

Further enhancements include black roof bars, mirror caps, 15-inch alloys and skid plate, plus a Caffé Italiano Brown colour, which is available in matt or metallic finishes, baby.

There’s a smattering of Trussardi logos, including, for the first time, one in the centre of the steering wheel. Still, according to Fiat this is the first ‘luxury Panda’. Does the world need a luxury Panda?

The world of fashion is far too highbrow to concern itself with the oily bits, but the Panda Trussardi is powered by a 69hp 1.2-litre engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. City Brake Control is an option (although it’s arguably a must-have in Rome).

Fiat Panda Trussardi interior

Olivier Francois, president of Fiat brand, said: “Panda can boast 39 years of success and has been the most popular car in Italy for six years. It has been the best-selling city car in Europe since 2003. In total, 7.5 million units have been sold, of which five million are still on the road.

“It is also a record-breaker. It was the first 4WD city car, the first small car to fit an automatic transmission, the first urban SUV and the first car to climb Mount Everest. Today, we have the first ‘luxury Panda’, the Panda Trussardi.”

Tomaso Trussardi, CEO of Trussardi, added: “Today, Fiat Panda is wearing the Trussardi style and turning itself into a contemporary and functional car with great attention to detail. I am very satisfied with this collaboration and thank the Fiat team for having believed in this project with us.”

The Fiat Panda is available in showrooms (and on catwalks) now.

London Car Free Day: how to reduce your emissions

London Car Free day reduce emissions

London’s Car Free Day is coming this Sunday (22 September) but only on 12 miles of road. What can you do, if you’re outside that zone, to reduce your car’s emissions?

Road transport is responsible for 30 percent of particulate emissions in Europe. In London alone, emissions related directly to cars, buses and lorries contribute to 9,000 premature deaths a year.

CO2 emissions

“With London’s Car Free Day approaching, it’s important to recognise the harmful effects our vehicles have on the environment, especially in congested metropolitan areas like London,” said Candace Gerlach of Green Flag.

“Green Flag is dedicated to helping drivers understand this impact by sharing advice on how we can be more environmentally conscious when travelling, especially in congested cities which suffer from increased air pollution.”

The breakdown cover provider has come up with a few clean-driving tips, and we’ve added some of our own. They could save you money, as well as help save the planet.

1. Plan your trip

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

Reducing polluting short trips is a big help when it comes to emissions. A warm engine is a cleaner engine, and it can’t get warm if it doesn’t get the chance. Get everything done on one drive, rather than scattering lots of short trips separately.

Do research ready for a trip – have your target parking space ready, to avoid circling around looking for a free spot. Plan when you’re going to leave, too. Avoid the polluting traffic, rather than becoming part of it.

2. Check your tyre pressures

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

According to Michelin, a tyre under-inflated by 20 percent can give 20 percent less fuel mileage. Over the course of 25,000 miles, that’s the equivalent of losing 5,000 miles in fuel. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

In short, low tyre pressures increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, so you should check your rubber at least once a month. Typically, a tyre will lose around 1 psi of pressure a month, but air might also be lost via a slow puncture, a leaking valve or old wheels.

3. Keep your car well-maintained

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

A happy car is a healthy car, and other such cliches. But the fact remains: a well-maintained vehicle will perform better, use less fuel and be better for the environment. Oil is the lifeblood of your car, lubricating the engine, keeping it cool and preventing wear. It should be changed at regular intervals to maintain maximum efficiency.

Similarly, changing the oil, air and fuel filters is essential for a smooth-running vehicle, so check your handbook for the recommended service intervals. Deterioration is gradual, so don’t leave it too long before visiting a garage.

4. Smooth driving

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

How and what we drive has a significant bearing on efficiency. While changing your driving style won’t convince the tax man that you deserve a rebate, it will extend the time between fuel stops and will save you money.

The key is smoothness: accelerate steadily, don’t come straight off the power and immediately apply the brakes when slowing down. Look ahead and anticipate: coast, engine brake and so on. It’s a good feeling – saving you money on fuel and braking components.

5. Turn off the air-conditioning

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

We know of a few people who have spent a hot lunchtime in their air-conditioned car, as it was cooler than in the office. But the fact remains, the air-con system makes the engine work harder, increasing fuel usage and CO2 emissions. That’s not to say that opening the windows is the answer, as this can create drag, negating any benefits associated with keeping the air-con switched off.

As a rule of thumb, opening the windows is probably the best option for urban driving, switching to air-con for A-roads and motorways.

6. Reduce idling time

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

Many modern vehicles are fitted with a stop-start system, which automatically shuts down the engine when idling at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. Make sure it is switched on to maintain efficiency.

If your car isn’t fitted with a stop-start system, you should turn it off if you’re likely to be waiting for longer than 10 seconds. Equally, don’t leave your car idling on the driveway before you set off.

7. Maintain your car’s aerodynamics

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

Car manufacturers invest millions and spend weeks in the wind tunnel perfecting your vehicle’s aerodynamics, only for you to ruin things with a roof rack. Sure, you might need it to carry that extra luggage on your summer hols, but be sure to remove it when it’s not in use.

An empty roof rack can increase fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent, and there’s also the issue of added weight to think about. The advice is simple: if you’re not using it, remove it.

8. Remove any unnecessary weight

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

Open the boot and you might be surprised at how much clutter you’ve been lugging around. Foldaway furniture from the summer of 2016, Christmas crackers from 2011, the gym equipment you never actually used…

Even the most innocuous of old tat can add up to a significant heft – and you’re paying to lug it around. Reduce weight, use less fuel – it’s as simple as that.

9. Buy the right car

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

When all of the above isn’t enough, it’s time for a change. This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how much we confuse our needs with our desires. The shift to EVs is underway, with many people beginning to realise how comfortably electric cars can fit into our everyday lives, especially if your commutes and regular journeys are short.

Alternatively, a hybrid or plug-in hybrid could deliver substantially reduced CO2 emissions, as could swapping your old banger for something a little more modern. Every drop in emissions works towards the greater good.

10. Carbon offsetting

Reducing emissions on Clean Air Day

Got all of that? Good. This one will almost certainly not save or earn you any money, but it should ease your conscience.

What do cars belch out? Carbon dioxide (CO2). And what do trees, bushes, flowers and grass consume? CO2.

The noble act of carbon offsetting is easily achievable. It can be as simple as keeping a potted plant or maintaining a lawn, or as grand as a tree planting expedition. Either way, you’re nurturing greenery – the stuff that almost literally eats the stuff you’ve been pumping into the atmosphere since you first fired up a car. It sounds far-fetched, but a lot of people making a little effort can go a long way.

How to report a lorry, bus or coach driver

How to report lorry bus or coach driver

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has issued guidance for reporting lorry, bus or coach drivers for breaking safety rules.

Members of the public can choose to remain anonymous, but are encouraged to report drivers or operators in breach of safety rules, or for breaking the conditions of their licence.

Causes for complaint could include one of the following issues:

  • Breaking drivers’ hours rules
  • Overloading vehicles
  • Using vehicles that are unsafe or unroadworthy
  • Using emission cheat devices
  • Carrying dangerous or hazardous goods without permission
  • Driving an excessively smoky lorry, bus or coach

Information required

The DVSA will need to know who is involved (the driver or company name), the registration number of the vehicle(s) in question, the cause for complaint, plus when and where the incident took place.

There are three ways to submit the information:

  • Email: enquiries@dvsa.gov.uk
  • Telephone: 0800 030 4103 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 7.30am to 6pm)
  • Post: Intelligence Unit, DVSA, The Ellipse, Padley Road, Swansea, SA1 8AN

Reporting anonymously

Reporting a lorry driver

The DVSA warns that it might be possible for the driver or company to work out that you reported the incident.

However, the DVSA will never ask for names or contact details, calls will not be traced and statements will not be required. Furthermore, anyone who wishes to remain anonymous will not be called as a witness and will not have to appear in court.

Anyone who supplied contact details might be contacted for more information, be asked to provide a statement or asked to act as a witness in court.

What happens next?

The DVSA will review the information before deciding whether or not to examine the case. Other government departments, agencies or the police might be involved, depending on the severity of the case.

Feedback will be given following an investigation and after official proceedings have ended. The DVSA cannot give feedback on an ongoing case.

How to report other crimes

The process is different for other, non-safety related offences, such as drink-driving, speeding and driving while disqualified. In such cases, members of the public should contact the police.

To complain about bus driver rudeness or buses not arriving on time, contact Bus Users.

For more motoring advice, check out our advice section.

There’s a new all-electric baby Bugatti for KIDS

Bugatti Baby II electric Bugatti

Bugatti’s 110th birthday present to itself is a very special recreation. It’s not the sort of thing you’ll find gathering dust in an underground collection, however. Meet Baby II, the second scaled-down Bugatti for kids, that’s a 75 percent scale replica of the Type 35.

“When a company with such a colourful and proud history as Bugatti turns 110, you can allow yourself to look into the rearview mirror a little bit more than you usually would,” said Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti.

“Thus, it is only fitting for our anniversary year to revive the Bugatti Baby. 

Bugatti Baby II electric Bugatti

“The Bugatti Baby II has grown up to be more of a teenager now, and I must say I’m very excited to see it drive around on the Bugatti premises in Molsheim.”

Bugatti partnered with The Little Car Company to bring this next development of the baby to life. The XP1 prototype is now ready for testing by VIPs at Bugatti’s Molsheim home.

This iteration is a fair bit bigger than the 50 percent scale model revealed at Geneva. As a result, it can now take older drivers and passengers now, too.

It has got a sliding pedal box to accommodate people of all sizes, so more senior family members can come along for the ride.

An all-electric Bugatti

Bugatti Baby II electric Bugatti

You won’t find a historic straight-8 or a monstrous quad-turbo W16 under the bonnet of this miniature from Molsheim. The Baby II is currently the only electric Bugatti. It packs lithium ion batteries and even has regenerative braking.

Still true to the Type 35 are the iconic wheels, and the four-spoke steering wheel. Where once there was a rev counter, oil and fuel pressure gauges, there is now a speedo and battery level indicator.

There’s also a power gauge that tells you how much power you’re using. Just like in a Veyron or a Chiron. The fuel pump has been repurposed as a forward and reverse selector. A horn, rear-view mirror, handbrake and headlights also feature.

Bugatti Baby II electric Bugatti

Performance is impressive for what it is. ‘Child mode’ sees the top speed limited to 12 mph, while ‘adult mode’ gets you up to 27 mph. Power for the respective modes is a respective 1.3 horsepower and 5.3 horsepower.

Very cool is the fact that some will come with a Veyron and Chiron-style ‘Speed Key’ to unlock even more performance. Ask for the ‘Vitesse’ or ‘Pur Sang’ specs for that.

It’s even got a limited-slip diff, which is actually a worthy addition given the all-electric torque. The larger 2.8 kWh battery will give the baby a range of over 20 miles, while there is also a 1.4 kWh pack available. 

Bugatti Baby II electric Bugatti

Those buying a Baby for their little escape artist will take comfort in knowing that you can also get a remote control, to shut the baby off from a range of up to 50 metres.

As per the reveal at Geneva, 500 are to be built and they all sold out within three weeks of the show. For your minimum of €30,000, you can get your Baby II in a variety of colour options, though French Racing Blue is the standard spec. Production starts early next year.

Cinch: the website that ‘aims to make car-buying fun again’

New site to simplify car-buying

A new website aims to make buying a car simpler and free of jargon. The tagline for Cinch is ‘faff-free online car service’.

Cinch is apparently a response to consumer research that found 26 percent of people don’t feel confident when finding and buying a used car.

Almost a third (31 percent) said the process was daunting and nearly half (45 percent) said that it wasn’t enjoyable.

What does Cinch do differently?

New site to simplify car-buying

While you can search for a car in the traditional sense, by make, model, mileage and so on, the interesting bit is the new way of finding what you need. There are two tabs: ‘I know what I want’ and ‘Help me choose’.

‘Help me choose’ assists buyers‘ search based on what their needs are. You input budget, information on who’s buying (including height and age) and what kind of driving you do, including how far and often.

You then get a series of pictures that you have to select from, based on what you like. Last but not least, you pick from a list of ‘must-haves’. Included in the 12 options are fuel economy, safety and reliability, as well as speed, acceleration and power.

Hit the button and you have a list of cars that could suit you. For those not in-the-know, it could certainly help.

Less than seven years old and 70,000 miles

New site to simplify car-buying

Cinch will primarily be a hub for car supermarkets and dealers to show off their stock. The site will only list second-hand cars that are seven years old or younger, with less than 70,000 miles on the clock. 

“Every element of Cinch has been built in direct response to what the dealers and consumers have told us they want from the car finding, buying and selling process,” said Jonny Crowe, divisional CEO at Cinch.

New site to simplify car-buying

“Consumers want more intuitive offerings, and we can see dealers under increasing financial and operational pressures to convert consumer leads in the current automotive market; we want to help.

“Many consumers currently arrive at dealerships without really knowing what they want and dealers get overloaded with undifferentiated enquiries. Cinch cuts through this inefficiency, empowering dealers with better-qualified leads that have a higher likelihood of conversion and helping consumers make the right decision.”

Classic Land Rover Defender Works V8_170118_24

Opinion: You wait years for a new Land Rover Defender…

Classic Land Rover Defender Works V8_170118_24

“We’re dropping the S from SUV,” said Ineos Automotive’s commercial director Mark Tennant. “This is going to be a Marmite design, a bit anti-trend. Grenadier is going to be an uncompromising 4×4.” Sound familiar? 

The event today in London, where I heard confirmation Ineos isn’t simply going to build an all-new 4×4 but is going to assemble it in Wales, couldn’t have been better timed.

Less than a week ago, I was over in Frankfurt, standing in the crowd as cheers, whoops and applause welcomed the new Land Rover Defender. That’s an icon reinvented, a 21st century version of the original. Someone I was speaking to thought it was the concept car on the stand, and gasped when I said it was actually on sale.

New Land Rover Defender design director Gerry McGovern

It’s on sale for £45k, though. The smaller 90 is going to be around £40k, and you can bet most sold will be £50k and up. It’s that sort of machine – a wonderful possession… that many may not bear to put to work.

After the original Defender died, buyers switched to double cab pickups, a market that nudges 50,000 a year in the UK. It’s these people, and not new Defender buyers, that Ineos Automotive is going after with the Grenadier.

Hence the perfect timing. Land Rover is making the future, but the Grenadier will ensure those looking to do something the Defender was originally designed for won’t be left out. Farmers will surely queue up to push the considerable design tolerances of Grenadier. Fleets such as the Forestry Commission will use Grenadier like any other tool on the job: a piece of work equipment, to respect, but not love.

Some, of course, will never see a hard day’s graft in their lives. They’ll plough posh Wilton Road in London, where you’ll find the Grenadier pub after which this 4×4 is named.

But because it’s designed first and foremost to work for a living – and because it’s likely to cost tens of thousands less than the Defender – Grenadier seems set to do just that.

Ineos Automotive Bridgend factory - artist's impression

In being so proudly ‘UV’, Grenadier Defender might just complement the sleek new Defender uncommonly well. It’s even going to be built in Wales. And on which Anglesey beach was the concept for the original Series Land Rover sketched out? You’ve got it.

We’ve already got one new-age Defender. We don’t need another.

But a new iteration of the original Defender, with an accessible price tag to boot? Now you’re onto something, Ineos…

Revealed: the most likely reasons for failing the driving test

Reasons we fail driving tests

A Freedom of Information request to the DVSA has uncovered the most common reasons why learners fail their driving tests.

The information, acquired by Hippo Leasing, makes for interesting reading. Topping the list was pulling out of junctions safely, causing a fail on observation. Across the country, a total of 167,100 serious or dangerous faults were issued based on this.

Observations in general got learner drivers in trouble, with attentiveness to the mirrors coming in second as a reason for failure, with 139,883 faults issued.

Reasons we fail driving tests

In third, turning right at junctions was a fault noted 77,590 times. Steering control resulted in 73,715 faults for fourth place. And traffic light responses were next, with 72,110 faults.

Learners’ inability to move off, road positioning, reverse parking and responses to road signs fill up the rest of the top 10.

Shockingly, 577 faults were issued last year because a learner’s eyesight was too poor to drive. This is tested by being asked to read a number plate from 20 metres. 

As for the only fault that was issued precisely zero times? That’ll be for promptness on a controlled stop. It seems UK learners’ reaction times are on the money when it comes to the emergency stop.

Reasons we fail driving tests

“At the end of 2017, the DVSA introduced changes to the practical driving test to increase driver safety and the quality of training in light of the troubling statistic that road collisions remain the biggest killer of young people in the UK,” said Tom Preston, MD of Hippo Leasing.

“Driving test faults reflect the factors which cause the most accidents on the road. Observation is the most common factor, according to the DfT.

“So while over 167,000 learners failed their practical test last year for this very reason, it’s important candidates learn from their mistakes to keep themselves and others safe once they’re qualified to drive.”