Fuel stations at risk of closure due to coronavirus

Rural filling station

Many filling stations will have to close in coming weeks as a collapse in demand makes businesses unviable.

The Petrol Retailers Association has warned rural fuel stations are particularly at risk.

Demand for petrol is down 75 percent, while diesel is down 71 percent as motorists heed government warnings to stay at home.

ALSO READ: How to find the cheapest petrol and diesel near you

This is having a severe impact on filling station businesses, says the PRA, where sales volumes have plunged.  

The association is now warning motorists in rural areas to check their local filling station is open before they travel to buy fuel.

“To help freight move and help key workers travel safely and independently through this period of crisis, petrol filling stations must remain open,” said PRA chairman Brian Madderson.

“But this is proving to be a challenge for many.”

The collapse in oil prices is not helping independent filling stations, either: a PRA survey suggests six in 10 have full storage tanks, purchased weeks earlier when oil prices were much higher.

“Fuel retailers are having to maintain pump prices at previous levels to avoid suffering significant losses,” said Mr Madderson.

“When the COVID-19 restrictions and high sales volumes return, then we expect to see reductions in retail fuel prices.”

He has asked the government to give smaller fuel retailers the same 60-day credit terms as those enjoyed by supermarkets.

How to make your own Toyota GT86

Toyota GT86 model

With its newly-launched kit, Toyota says you’ll simply require access to a colour printer, some paper glue and a pair of scissors to create your very own GT86.

We’d add a ‘sticky-out tongue‘ and some choice words to the list.

In fairness, creating your own paper Toyota GT86 doesn’t look too taxing. Toyota claims the car should be finished within an hour, so with six designs available, your children should be kept occupied for most of the working day.

There’s also the potential to host your own one-make race series, although we’d recommend keeping these cars away from the skirting boards. Paper isn’t known for its structural rigidity and we doubt these cars would pass the Euro NCAP safety test.

Paper chase

Toyota GT86 paper model

The six designs were originally created for the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed to commemorate 50 years of Toyota in the UK.

We’re featuring the Yatabe Speed Trial Toyota 2000GT design, complete with yellow paintwork, dark green bonnet and prominent Esso sponsorship.

Other liveries include the Shelby Toyota 2000GT, Ove Andersson’s Toyota Celica 1600GT, IMSA GTU Toyota Celica, Castrol Toyota Celica GT-Four and Esso Ultron Tiger Toyota Supra.

Big kids with big hands are advised to print them on A3 paper, but A4 will be fine if your working-from-home printer isn’t up to scratch. You’re advised to separate each of the three main sections and each of the four tyres from the grey background.

Paper cut

Toyota GT86 cut-out template

Fold and glue all of the tabs so that they adhere to the underside of the adjacent panel. Toyota says the finished article ”should resemble a Toyota GT86“, with a strong emphasis on the word ‘should’.

If your last attempt at a build-your-own paper car involved sticky back plastic and John Noakes, some child supervision might be required.

One thing’s for certain: an armchair critic will pipe up with some nonsense about the paper Toyota GT86 needing more power. 

Proud of your efforts? Be sure to share them with Toyota GB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Download the designs here: 

Yatabe Speed Trial Toyota GT86

Shelby Toyota 2000GT

Ove Andersson’s Toyota Celica 1600GT

IMSA GTU Toyota Celica

Castrol Toyota Celica GT-Four

Esso Ultron Tiger Toyota Supra


NHS Vauxhall

Vauxhall offers free breakdown cover to NHS staff

NHS Vauxhall

Vauxhall is pledging free roadside assistance to all NHS staff who drive one of its cars during the coronavirus crisis.

The offer extends to any Vauxhall vehicle, regardless of age or mileage.

Normally, only people who buy a brand new Vauxhall get the 12-month Roadside Assistance package.

ALSO READ: Free car parking for NHS staff during coronavirus

The assistance programme will deploy a technician in the event of a breakdown to attempt a repair at the roadside.  

If this isn’t possible, it includes recovery of the vehicle to a Vauxhall repairer or independent garage within a 10-mile radius.

The owner gets taxi support to the their home or place of work within 20 miles.  

“Keeping our NHS colleagues mobile is vital,” said Vauxhall MD Stephen Norman.

The offer will “hopefully offer some reassurance” to key workers who do not already have any mechanical breakdown cover.

“Vauxhall is committed to providing continued support to essential services and key workers, many of whom drive Vauxhalls, during this time.”

NHS staff: how do I claim free Vauxhall roadside assistance?

Vauxhall has made claiming the support package for NHS staff as simple as possible.

They call a special number – 0800 197 2049 – and quote ‘NHS key worker’.

The operator will ask for their make of Vauxhall, its registration, the exact location and details of the breakdown problem.

NHS workers don’t need to pre-register for the initiative; they simply show their NHS Care Identity Number (Smart Card) or Trust ID Badge to the technician in order to prove their eligibility.

Land Rover puts Defender to work for emergency services

Jaguar Land Rover Red Cross coronavirus

Land Rover has joined the effort to combat coronavirus. The British carmaker is donating a fleet of 150 new Defenders to emergency services around the world.

Some are destined for long-time Land Rover partner charity, the Red Cross.

The cars will be put to use delivering medicine and food to elderly and vulnerable people in the UK, Spain, France and beyond.

The British Red Cross will receive 57 vehicles from Land Rover, including 27 new Defenders.

ALSO READ: New Land Rover Defender revealed: the headline facts

The cars are in addition to Jaguar Land Rover’s efforts in terms of 3D printing. It’s among a number of UK companies, including car manufacturers, contributing research and resources to the production of ventilators.

Jaguar Land Rover Red Cross coronavirus

“The health and safety of our employees, customers and their families remain our priority,” said Finbar McFall, Jaguar Land Rover customer experience director.

“Jaguar and Land Rover will do everything we can to support people in need around the world. Our partnership with the Red Cross goes back 65 years and we will work hand in hand with them to do all we can during this global health emergency.

“We will also provide help to those closer to home in our local communities. We can all play a part in helping the vulnerable during this global pandemic.”

Jaguar Land Rover Red Cross coronavirus

Like a member of the Royal family, the Defender’s lineage almost demands that it puts a shift for the services. Its predecessor was, for decades, the backbone of many organisations in the UK and around the world.

Land Rover has been working with the Red Cross for more than 65 years, and Defenders have been invaluable in response efforts over the years.

Jaguar Land Rover Red Cross coronavirus

“This unprecedented global health emergency requires us all to pull together,” said Simon Lewis, head of crisis response at the British Red Cross.

“As part of the British Red Cross response to coronavirus, we’re delving deep into the heart of communities across the UK to help strengthen support for the most vulnerable people through delivering essential food parcels and medicines to those unable to get out.”

Air pollution falls amid coronavirus lockdowns

Coronavirus lockdowns cause drop in emissions across the world

Scientists are reporting a side-effect of the coronavirus pandemic in many cities across the world is a significant reduction in air pollution.

As people stay home, and have done so in various countries over the course of the month, marked percentage drops in emissions levels have been noted.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has now published data from recent weeks on nitrogen oxide (NOx) concentrations. This is backed up with imagery from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).

Images are from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite which has been monitoring NOx levels in Europe. 

This is Italy in early March: 

Coronavirus lockdowns cause drop in emissions across the world

And this is later in March, once lockdowns began: 

Coronavirus lockdowns cause drop in emissions across the world

The differences are significant. As of March 25, Italian cities such as Milan and Bergamo saw nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations down by a respective 21 percent and 47 percent respectively. 

Rome’s average NO2 concentrations for the four weeks preceding March 25 were down between 26 and 35 percent, compared to the same weeks in 2019.

Spanish figures seem to follow similar trends. Average NO2 levels in Barcelona were down 55 percent for the same mid-March period, compared with 2019. Compared with the week prior, levels were down 40 percent.

Coronavirus lockdowns cause drop in emissions across the world

Madrid saw a week-to-week drop of 56 percent.

Coronavirus lockdowns cause drop in emissions across the world

Figures in the Spanish capital were down 41 percent on the same week in 2019. Lisbon saw a year-to-date drop of 51 percent, and a drop from the week before of 51 percent. 

Emissions down during coronavirus crisis

Chinese figures too, are down significantly. The country’s ministry of ecology and environment has reported a 21.5 percent increase in ‘good quality air days’ in February.

Nasa reckons that NO2 levels dropped by between 10 and 30 percent across eastern and central China, between mid-January and mid-February.

The drop in CO2 emissions in all cases ought to be commensurate, too. China’s, for instance, are thought to be down by at least 30 percent.

MOT test centre sign

Coronavirus: Do I still need a car, van or motorcycle MOT?

MOT test centre sign

MOTs for cars, motorcycles and light vans due from TODAY (30 March 2020) have been granted a temporary six-month extension, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced. 

However, motorists “must still keep your car in a roadworthy condition and garages will remain open for repairs”. 

It means that if your MOT has run out, you CAN now legally drive your car. 

The six-month extensions are granted automatically: motorists do not need to do anything. 

Current MOTs will be extended by six months from their original expiry date. 

If your three-year-old vehicle’s first MOT is due, you will be automatically given a six-month MOT exemption from the date it was due. 

This also means car insurance WILL remain valid: motorists are required to have a current MOT as part of car insurance rules (Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988). 

Garages carrying out car repairs are listed as exempted businesses as they are considered an ‘essential service’ to ensure vehicles remain safe and roadworthy. 

ALSO SEE: Simple and essential checks before your car’s MOT

MOTs for lorries, buses and trailers were earlier suspended for up to three months from 21 March 2020.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs) will be issued with a three-month certificate of temporary exemption (CTE) until further notice.

New advice has now been published on what operators need to do to exempt their vehicle.

Technician carrying out a car MOT

The government reminds operators to keep their vehicles maintained, in a safe-to-drive and roadworthy condition.

They should also still be operated within the terms of the operators’ licence conditions.

Empty Westminster Bridge

Coronavirus: Can I still drive my car?

Empty Westminster Bridge

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has instructed British people to stay at home.

Restrictions will remain in place for at least three weeks from Monday 23 March and every British citizen is instructed to comply with the new rules.

There are only four reasons people should be leaving their homes: shopping, one form of exercise a day, medical needs or essential work travel.

“That’s all,” said the PM. “These are the only reasons you should leave your home.

“If you don’t follow the rules, the police will have the powers to enforce them.”

Can I still drive my car?

Driving cars has not directly been restricted. These are the permitted reasons for driving a car:

1) Shopping for basics, as infrequently as possible

‘Basics’ means food, medicine or fuel. All ‘non-essential retail’ shops and community spaces have been closed. The government has also advised that food delivery services are used ‘where you can’ to avoid the need to go out.

2) Medical needs or caring for a vulnerable person

This can include travelling to care for someone in a different location, where no alternatives for care exist. 

3) Travel to and from work – but only where absolutely necessary

If you are able, you must work from home instead of commuting to your place of work.

4) Taking children to school or parents’ houses

Schools remain open for vulnerable children and those of key workers critical to the COVID-19 response. Where the school is some distance away, parents or guardians can drive children to the school.

‘Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes,’ explains the government guidance.

Which types of car-related business are essential?

Garages have been confirmed as essential businesses, to keep cars safe and roadworthy. The Department for Transport has not currently suspended the need for cars, motorcycles or vans to have a valid MOT.

Garages are still required to carry out MOT tests – and if your car doesn’t have a valid MOT, you’re not legally allowed to drive it.

Are roads and motorways closed?

All roads and motorways remain fully open.

Petrol stations and garages are listed as essential businesses, so are allowed to stay open despite the lockdown.

Many filling stations are advising customers to support social distancing by using pay-at-pump facilities.

How long will these restrictions last?

The government will review the restrictions after three weeks and say it will ‘relax them if the evidence shows we are able to’.

The advice continues: ‘These measures will reduce our day-to-day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus’.

Should I still drive my car?

Quiet costal road

Although there are no strict clampdowns on driving your car, motorists should think carefully about whether they should.

If you break down, for example, you risk being stranded – or forcing a recovery service to come and rescue you.

Many police forces are asking motorists to reduce the strain on the already-overstretched emergency services. Slowing down and driving more safely, or not driving at all, is the best way to do this.

As the Prime Minister said, “I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives”.

The message is clear: you should not drive your car unless you absolutely have to.

Anthony Joshua celebrates the Range Rover’s 50th… on ice

Anthony Joshua Range Rover on ice

Anthony Joshua has been helping celebrate the 50th birthday of the Range Rover. The World Heavyweight Champion boxer tackled some ice driving in Sweden.

Joshua has just taken delivery of his own customised Range Rover SVAutobiography.

Meanwhile, artist Simon Beck created a giant artwork in the Swedish snow. It reads ‘50 Years of Range Rover’. 

Anthony Joshua Range Rover on ice

Joshua experienced something few Range Rover owners do – driving very sideways. Don’t worry, Land Rover hasn’t added a Drift Mode. Rather, he’s been learning ice driving at Land Rover’s Arjeplog test facility in the Arctic Circle.

He did so under the careful instruction of Jaguar Land Rover’s Ice Academy driving experts. Four high-spec Special Vehicles models were used: a Range Rover Sport SVR, Velar SVAutobiography, Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic and a ‘standard’ Range Rover SVAutobiography.


We hope Joshua and the instructors didn’t slide their way through Beck’s artwork. The special anniversary logo and script required no less than 45,000 steps across the snow. 

Land Rover says full celebrations of the model begin in June, on the anniversary of the introduction of the two-door Range Rover in 1970.

June is also when Anthony Joshua will be riding in his SVA, on the way to fighting Kubrat Pulev in London.

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“Over five decades the Range Rover has evolved into the most desirable luxury SUV in the world,” said Gerry McGovern OBE, chief creative officer at Land Rover.

“Its peerless combination of sophisticated design, refinement and capability has struck an emotional chord with customers all over the globe.”

Track-ready £40k Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition sells out

2020 Honda Civic Type R limited edition sells out

Honda’s hardcore Civic Type R Limited Edition has sold out. The UK will get just 20 examples of this stripped-out, track-focused hot hatchback – and they’re all spoken for.

That’s in spite of a hefty price tag of £39,995 on the road. In fact, the cars sold out before buyers even knew how much they’d be paying.

The 20 UK cars make up a fifth of the total 100-car European allocation. The Limited Edition represents what Honda calls the ‘purest expression of Type R, with less weight, improved dynamics and a strong driver focus’.

2020 Honda Civic Type R limited edition sells out

The Limited Edition brings a 47kg weight saving over the standard Type R. That comes from binning the infotainment system and climate control, along with thinning out much of the sound deadening.

New touch-points include an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and counterweighted Civic EK9-style alloy gear knob. The rear seats remain, however – unlike some rivals such as the Renault Megane RS Trophy-R.

On the outside, it’s most easily identifiable by its bright Sunlight Yellow paint. However, the Limited Edition also features new lightweight 20-inch BBS forged alloy wheels.

2020 Honda Civic Type R limited edition sells out

“As with the previous generation, we were expecting a huge demand for the Civic Type R Limited Edition,” said Phil Webb, head of cars at Honda UK.

“To have sold all 20 examples so quickly and before anyone has even seen, let alone driven the car, is fantastic and testament to the work done by the multiple-award-winning Civic Type R.”

Honda Civic Type R 2020

Along with the Limited Edition, a standard Type R with a refreshed look was also launched for 2020. Interesting, too, was the launch of the subtler GT, which does without the normal car’s huge rear wing.

However, if it was the Limited Edition you wanted, you’ll need to look to the second-hand market. Needless to say, given the limited availability, you may pay a premium.

Coronavirus boosts demand for small, cheap cars by a FIFTH

Pandemic causes demand for cheap small cars to rise

A used car website is reporting a spike in searches for cheap used cars, in the wake of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. There has been unprecedented demand for small cars priced below £2,000, such as the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and VW Polo.

Over the course of the last week, ‘traffic on our site has been way outside normal parameters’ – so says used car website, DesperateSeller.

Demand for the above models in the lower price bracket has increased by 18 percent in the past seven days. 

Pandemic causes demand for cheap small cars to rise

That’s on average, too. The site reports that London has seen a 27 percent jump in the popularity of this type of car. And such models seem to be cannibalising other segments: searches for £15,000-£20,000 cars are down by 11 percent.

So why the popularity of these cars specifically? Well, being relatively cheap to start with, they’re the newest and, it’s assumed, most reliable cars you can buy at this price point.

With public transport running at limited capacity, more compact vehicles will appeal to urban drivers. 

Pandemic causes demand for cheap small cars to rise

“People are veering away from public transport in order to better isolate themselves, but they also want to support elderly relatives even more than before,” said a spokesperson for DesperateSeller.

“Suddenly, getting a cheap runabout with a good reputation for reliability (like a Corsa, Fiesta or Polo) makes a lot of sense. It looks like budget cars could be the motoring equivalent of handwash, and dealers will certainly welcome the increase in demand. The circumstances in London mean it is a particular hotspot.”


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