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Inbetweeners Fiat Panda Hawaii

April Fools’ Day: the best car manufacturer pranks

Inbetweeners Fiat Panda HawaiiMany car manufacturers have a penchant for prankery and April Fools’ antics. Highlights from over the years include a Skoda umbrella for dogs, a Mini for hipsters and a four-seater Mazda MX-5.

But this is an absolute corker from Fiat. Behold, the Panda Hawaii – a tribute to the Cinquecento that starred in cult TV show ‘The Inbetweeners’. It will apparently be offered with free insurance for first-time teenage drivers. No one wants to be a bus… well, you know. Features include ‘amphibious qualities’ in case you get too friendly with your local pond, as well as a pre-dented red door, plus a cassette player in place of the usual infotainment system.

“The Panda Hawaii is perfect for young men as, not only is it cheap to run, it also attracts members of the opposite sex,” said a Fiat spokesperson. Quite. Ordering opens on April 1…

Tesla Roadster in space-age sale

Tesla Roadster

The Tesla Roadster sent into space is up for sale. The electric sports car was blasted beyond the Earth’s atmosphere aboard a SpaceX rocket, with a David Bowie ‘Starman’ mannequin in the driving seat.

Pending its return to solid ground, the interplanetary Tesla will be offered for sale via auction website Collecting Cars. With one owner from new and full main-dealer service history, its estimated hammer price is $420,000 (£320,000).

Aida Prilgrap, Collecting Cars’ specialist in the Netherlands, said: “Our early auctions include cars from across Europe, but this is the first vehicle we’ve consigned outside our atmosphere. It’s unbelievable.” Well, quite.

Kahn Design electronically customisable paint

Kahn Design electronically customisable paint

Kahn Design has created the world’s first electronically customisable paint. Via an app, owners can control the 3 billion diodes in the paint to create a bespoke colour at the touch of a finger. The video explains all: 

Skoda ProjectaPal LED reminder system

Skoda ProjectaPal April Fools' Day

Many Skoda Karoq now have standard boarding spotlights, illuminating the ground when the door is opened. Cue a development of this, called ProjectaPal lighting system, which projects personalised messages onto the ground.

Skoda ProjectaPal April Fools' Day

“Owners can create a bespoke reminder or link to their diary,” says Skoda, and also “project images from smartphone galleries”.

Skoda ProjectaPal April Fools' Day

The firm’s head of infotainment development, Dr Ivor Tüchskreen apparently said: “Every week, I forget to put my bins out for recycling. Before ProjectaPal, I would tape a note on the interior door handle, but it would always fall off. Then I thought ‘why don’t I ask my Karoq to remind me instead?’ – and that’s when we started designing ProjectaPal.”

MG road-colouring tyres

MG colour the road

MG’s mantra is ‘colour the road’. So on April 1 2019, it has announced road-colouring tyres. They’re coated with a water-soluble dye that covers the road as the car drives, before fading shortly afterwards. And don’t worry about safety, adds the firm; they’ve passed the strictest industry tests with, ahem, flying colours.

The most remote charging point in the UK

Land Rover April Fools' Day

Land Rover is taking a stand in the fight for a better electric vehicle charging infrastructure. For EV owners on the remote Scottish Isle of Skye, the company has installed what is officially the most remote charging point in the UK. The non-existent electric outlet allows for zero-emissions adventures in the new P400e Range Rover. Its batteries will charge in two hours and 45 minutes, according to LR. “Plenty of time to take in the electrifying view,” then.

BMW Motorrad iRace Kit

BMW iRace Kit

BMW’s astonishing S 1000 RR produces 207hp, weighs just 193kg and is a superbike of the highest order. What about if you’re not quite so talented, but still want to sample what it’s capable of? Enter the new iRace Kit, which uses BMW’s patented autonomous-ride motorcycle tech to accelerate, brake, gearshift and steer riders around circuits at speed all the way up to the current lap record. They simply hold on. “What I experienced was sheer fear,” said test pilot Rosario Froschle, “but I started to gain trust. It was pure madness, but completely safe.”

A 1,000hp jet-powered motorbike

Triumph Rocket

From the vaguely silly, to the absolutely insane; here’s a new accessory for your Triumph Rocket motorbike. Two jets are fitted where the exhaust would normally be, each lending 500hp to the cause of forward motion. And that is forward motion only, given this Rocket will be thrust-driven. “The new Rocket Mode Thrusters will beat just about anything in a straight line, including up,” said S.P. Aceman, chief project engineer at Triumph. We believe you, Mr Aceman.

Toyota ‘Pieace’ mobile oven

Toyota Pieace

Somebody at Toyota Australia has been busy with Photoshop. The result is a convertible version of the Hiace van, complete with an optional pie oven. Meet the Pieace.

Apparently the slide-out oven includes a grill with four cooking racks. Toyota Australia’s head of public affairs, Brodie Bott, said the Pieace “made smoko a breeze”. Whatever that means.

Toyota Pieace

“It works a lot like a slow cooker,” continued Mr Bott. “All you do is pop an uncooked pie or sausage roll in the Pieace, set it to the desired temperature using the buttons on the steering wheel, and away you go. An alarm on the dash lets the driver know when the pie is cooked.” 

Mini Hipster Hatch

Mini Hipster

Mini is famous for its special editions and here’s one that taps straight into the current psyche. The Mini Hipster Hatch answers the needs of “what those who refused to be categorised want from a car”: enter red lumberjack check exterior details and Instagram-filtered windows. Take it in Brooklyn Blue, Monochromatic Green or this rather fetching Organic Pumpkin. It has a fixed gear drive, just like hipsters’ beloved fixie bicycles, with a maximum speed of 25mph.

Mini Cooper T

Mini Cooper T

Does it get any more British than this? It’s a Mini Cooper that’ll run on tea. Colours include ‘Chamomile Yellow’, ‘Red Bush’ and ‘Early Grey’.

Toyota Aygo Instagram app

Toyota Instagram April Fools' Day

How can Toyota make its Aygo city car more desirable to young drivers? It’s found the answer, by teaming with photo-sharing app Instagram to offer its famous filters on the car’s rear-view camera. Selfies taken through the camera can then be shared through the app.

Toyota x-touch engineer Flora Poli said: “This is certainly one of the trickier projects I’ve worked on. At first I was worried, because let’s face it, using a reversing camera to take selfies seems a stupid idea. But if this engages people in what is actually an important and useful safety feature that is available across most of the Aygo range, it is worth it… I think.”

Morgan MOGrod

MOGrod

The Malvern firm that specialises in sports cars made out of wood teased its latest project – a new range of hot rods, powered by Ford’s 3.7-litre V6. We kinda wish this wasn’t an April Fool gag.

Hyundai i10 special project

Hyundai April Fools' Day

In 2009, Hyundai claimed that world leaders were becoming concerned about emissions from large limos and adapted SUVs, so announced a cost effective solution in the form of a customised i10 city car. The roof was specially raised to accommodate VIPs, while the seats were finished in a cloth nicknamed ‘holy sheet’…

Paw-wheel drive

Volkswagen April Fools' Day

Volkswagen announced that it had been working with the RSPCA to teach dogs to drive its Amarok pick-up truck. Apparently the three mixed-breed dogs, Tulip, Jacob and Harry were initially taught using a wooden trolley, before upgrading to the four-wheel drive.

Nissan Gym

Nissan gym button

Thanks to Nissan, driving to work could be as healthy as walking, courtesy of this ‘Gym’ button. It turns off features drivers take for granted, such as power steering and electric windows, while also increasing the resistance in the accelerator, brake and clutch pedals. The firm reckoned motorists would burn thousands of calories a week and raise their fitness levels as they drive. There was even a ‘Gym and Go’ app in the infotainment system.

Kia KEE_wii

Kia Kee Wii

Another Kia prank, this time from 2008. The Korean manufacturer took its Kee concept car, seen at Frankfurt the previous year, and claimed it could be driven using a small controller inspired by computer games consoles.

Citroen C4 Cactus Arsenal edition

Citroen April Fools' Day

The Citroen C4 Cactus is already an eye-catching car, but its blue, red and gold Arsenal edition got a mixed reception ahead of the 2014/15 season. It featured a Geo Organised Away-day Location, Information & Entertainment interface (GOALIE), pre-loaded with Arsenal’s away fixtures including directions to the matches, a database of pie and mash vendors and a music playlist of football anthems.

SEAT electro reflective technology

Seat April Fools' Day

Could invisible cars be a thing? In April 2008, SEAT claimed that it had used technology similar to that used in auto-dimming mirrors to create a Leon that could mimic its surroundings.

SEAT Aero-Tonto

Seat April Fools' Day

On 1 April 2009, SEAT followed this up with a wind turbine that could be mounted on top of the Ibiza Ecomotive’s roof to generate power for its headlights. As a result, it could return an extra 3mpg.

Vauxhall Astra VXR Accelerator Pedal Retarding Intervention Lump

Vauxhall April Fools' Day

Back when you could get a new Vauxhall Astra VXR, the firm offered a solution to quelling the expensive fuel bills that went with it: the Accelerator Pedal Retarding Intervention Lump (APRIL), which prevented a heavy right foot.

BMW Force Injection Booster

BMW April Fools' Day

Like every drive to feel like an Autobahn blast? BMW’s Force Injection Booster (FIB) extracts kinetic energy from the car’s engine at speeds of up to 20mph, converts it into positive g-forces and channels it through the air vents. At the same time, a mild electric current is delivered through the front seats, to simulate the same exhilarating feeling of driving at high speed.

BMW xDrive Baby Boots

BMW xDrive Baby Boots

Good news! Now your baby can enjoy the benefits of xDrive, BMW’s intelligent four-wheel drive system. The xDrive Baby Boots enable perfect weight distribution, providing maximum walking pleasure for your toddler. You know something, if BMW actually produced these, we think there’d be a queue outside dealerships everywhere…

Mazda MX-5 four-door

Mazda four-door MX-5

We doubt Mazda will have much trouble shifting its MX-5, but would it more desirable as a four-door? The manufacturer tweeted this picture, saying “We’re excited to share with you the first picture of the all-new Mazda MX-5 4 seater.”

BMW Canine Repellent Alloy Protection

BMW Canine Repellant Alloy Protection

Fed up of dogs doing their business on the wheels of your new BMW? In 2008, the manufacturer revealed its Canine Repellent Alloy Protection (CRAP) which would give animals an electric shock if they came too close to your BMW.

BMW Political Roundel Attachment Tag

BMW PRAT

BMW has form for April Fools’ gags. Ahead of the 2010 general election, it revealed its Political Roundel Attachment Tag (PRAT) – a bonnet badge that could be specced in the colour of whichever political party you support.

Vauxhall Astra Copacabana

Vauxhall Astra Copacabana

On April Fools’ Day, Vauxhall revealed a £41,024.01 Astra. The Copacabana’s 2.6 second 0-60mph time would push passengers back into their seats, which were trimmed from genuine Rio turf. The footwells were filled with sand and the horn resembled a Vuvuzela.

BMW M3 pickup

BMW M3 pickup

The way BMW’s model line-up is going, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see an M3 pickup added to the range. Apparently its lightweight (50kg less than the convertible) and lower centre of gravity meant it could hit a top speed of 300km/h (186mph).

Land Rover self-levelling tax disc holder

Land Rover self-levelling windscreen

In 2011, Land Rover developed a self-levelling tax disc holder in response to new legislation that said tax discs legally should not be displayed at jaunty angles.

Kia Concept i

Kia i-Kia

Buying a new car is getting increasingly like buying home furnishings, with some manufacturers now opening dealerships in shopping centres. Kia saw this coming in 2007, with the introduction of its Concept i. Described as a ‘modular car’, buyers could choose the engine, transmission and trim specification of their new car before opting for the rear model (saloon, hatch, estate etc). Dealers would then supply the modules for the customer to put together at home, creating their new, erm, i’Kia.

Vauxhall Taxi Kebabi

Vauxhall Taxi Kebabi

Many nights on the town end with a quick kebab before a taxi ride home. In a stroke of genius, Vauxhall launched the Taxi Kebabi, which is like having your kebab and eating it. Based on the nine-seat Combi minibus, it featured two gas-fired spit rotisserie grilles, integrated salad bowls, chili dispensers and a selection of sauces.

Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Mini

Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Mini

If today’s vans are a little too large, the Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Mini could be the answer. This pint-sized van is just 2.4 metres long and answers the need for ultra-compact vans in urban environments. It can even be parked at right angles to the kerb, Smart style.

Skoda Simply Clever dog umbrella

Skoda Simply Clever dog umbrella

You couldn’t make it up. Actually, you could, with Skoda’s new dog umbrella for its flagship Superb. Like its ‘human’ counterpart, the dog umbrella integrates into the car’s doorframe, and can be attached to a conventional lead to provide a unique ‘paws-free’ operation.

Honda emoji licence plate

Honda emoji licence plate

Honda’s response to demand from younger drivers in the UK? Plans to introduce the world’s first official emoji vehicle registration plates. Shigastu Baka, First Officer of Licences at Honda UK, said: “We are really excited to offer our customers a fun, quirky way to customise their car, which importantly, is reflective of their personality and lifestyle.

World’s first Formula 1 coach

Luxoria Formula 1 coach

This is Luxuria, the world’s first purpose-built track and tour coach. It develops 3,614lb ft of torque, with a top speed of 122.6mph. It has lapped the Barcelona F1 circuit in a mere 2m 18 sec, with a list of features that includes an adjustable carbon fibre rear spoiler, carbon ceramic disc brake sand super-soft slick tyres. 30 guests can enjoy this unique experience.

 

Motorway at night

Opinion: Motorways are smart. Pity drivers aren’t

Motorway at nightAs a regular user of the M6 and M1, it happens almost every time I drive on them: someone cruises up the hard shoulder and drives past me.

Quite apart from the obvious rules-flouting undertake, this is also illegal because, well, it’s the hard shoulder, not a live running lane. So why do they do it?

Because it’s a smart motorway section and they clearly think it’s within their right. Indeed, the undertake is probably a badge of honour because I’m in the wrong and they’re teaching me a lesson. (Such is the logic of many road rage-infused motorists.)

Only I’m not. And they’re not so smart. Because although it’s a smart motorway, the ‘smart’ hard shoulder bit isn’t actually live. The overhead gantries, shorn of illuminated speed limit indicators, confirm this.

And if they then do come across someone stopped on the side of the motorway, poking about under their bonnet or struggling to change a wheel – well, it doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

This is the conundrum of smart motorways: they’re an excellent idea, and the stepchange in available road space really does help manage congestion. I’m all in favour of them – but people need to be taught how to use them, and this is where the Department for Transport has failed.

Because now, it’s almost an assumption that if a motorway is smart, the hard shoulder can be used all the time. And, sooner or later, I fear this is going to cause a big accident. If, indeed, it hasn’t already.

The simple solution is obvious: if the lane is closed, permanently display a big red ‘X’ in that lane. This would make it blindingly obvious to all road users. Oh, and maybe set the speed cameras to capture motorists who drive past a red ‘X’ (or at least tell people that’s what you’re planning to do).

Motorists are still getting used to smart motorways, and an apparent lack of information means many just don’t understand it. So, DfT, until you get your education campaign fully into gear, turn on the crosses. It may just save lives.

Motorway at night

Opinion: Motorways are smart. Pity drivers aren't

Motorway at nightAs a regular user of the M6 and M1, it happens almost every time I drive on them: someone cruises up the hard shoulder and drives past me.

Quite apart from the obvious rules-flouting undertake, this is also illegal because, well, it’s the hard shoulder, not a live running lane. So why do they do it?

Because it’s a smart motorway section and they clearly think it’s within their right. Indeed, the undertake is probably a badge of honour because I’m in the wrong and they’re teaching me a lesson. (Such is the logic of many road rage-infused motorists.)

Only I’m not. And they’re not so smart. Because although it’s a smart motorway, the ‘smart’ hard shoulder bit isn’t actually live. The overhead gantries, shorn of illuminated speed limit indicators, confirm this.

And if they then do come across someone stopped on the side of the motorway, poking about under their bonnet or struggling to change a wheel – well, it doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

This is the conundrum of smart motorways: they’re an excellent idea, and the stepchange in available road space really does help manage congestion. I’m all in favour of them – but people need to be taught how to use them, and this is where the Department for Transport has failed.

Because now, it’s almost an assumption that if a motorway is smart, the hard shoulder can be used all the time. And, sooner or later, I fear this is going to cause a big accident. If, indeed, it hasn’t already.

The simple solution is obvious: if the lane is closed, permanently display a big red ‘X’ in that lane. This would make it blindingly obvious to all road users. Oh, and maybe set the speed cameras to capture motorists who drive past a red ‘X’ (or at least tell people that’s what you’re planning to do).

Motorists are still getting used to smart motorways, and an apparent lack of information means many just don’t understand it. So, DfT, until you get your education campaign fully into gear, turn on the crosses. It may just save lives.

Volkswagen Beetle

Day trips ruined by the car journey say 8 in 10

Volkswagen BeetleThe vast majority of Brits say they’ve had a day trip ruined before it’s even begun by a terrible car journey – with heavy traffic being the biggest reason why.

81% of respondents to an Automyze survey admit the whole trip has been spoiled by the actual journey to it, with 52% of them blaming heavy traffic.

Even if they get there without trouble, 34% have suffered a ruined day trip because they couldn’t find anywhere to park, while almost 1 in 10 barely made it to their destination in the first place because they got lost en route.

“Brits are great opportunists and often take advantage of the UK’s sporadic days of heat to go on mini-breaks or drive to the coast,” said Automyze director Lucy Burnford.

“While images of knotted handkerchiefs and fish and chips may conjure up the British summer of old, perhaps lines of traffic backed up in seaside downs is today’s more accurate depiction.”

Motorists also revealed the things most likely to wind them up when on the road in summer: topping the table here was people who throw rubbish out of the window – a particular gripe of those aged 45-54.

Groups of cyclists and inconsiderate parking wind up millennials, while slow-moving caravans irritate those aged 35-44.

If you’re 65 or older, other cars playing loud music with the windows open is the thing guaranteed to get your blood boiling.

“The holiday season can mean warmish temperatures but even hotter heads,” said Burnford. Be careful out there…

Family car trip

Most stressful minute into a long journey revealed

Family car tripFamilies travelling on a staycation will reach peak stress 1 hour 16 minutes into the journey, new research has revealed.

Insurance comparison site comparethemarket.com questioned more than 1,000 adults with children about staycations and discovered breaking point thus comes relatively early into the journey: more than 6 in 10 UK car holiday trips take three hours or more.

Topping the list of stress inducers is boredom, which beats arguments between siblings and the need for loo breaks; perhaps this is why 16% of parents admit they keep their children up late the night before a holiday drive in the hope they’ll sleep through the trip.

5% will even turn to (over-the-counter) drugs: Calpol is cited by some as a solution to induce sleep and reduce stress.

Note, Calpol for the children, not the parents.

A more sanguine 46% will load the car with tablet computers, smartphone chargers and video games to keep children entertained – meaning technology is a more populate cure for boredom than traditional games such as I-spy.

1 in 5 also say they still play the number plate game, although since the advent of the new-stye number plate in 2001, the threat of arguments over the exact rules is a risk many parents may wish to steer clear of.

New car finance

Car finance: 3 in 4 Brits use it but 2 in 3 can't explain it

New car financeBritish car buyers do not understand common car finance terms such as personal contract hire, personal contract purchase and gap insurance – despite 77% of new car sales now using car dealer finance.

New car finance actually grew once again last month, by more than 10%, but two in three Brits do not feel confident explaining commonly-used car finance jargon.

Vauxhall: ‘most Corsa VXR buyers are under 30’

The survey of more than 1,000 car buyers, by BMW Group Financial Services, discovered that just 18% of car buyers can explain personal contract hire (PCH) and less than 20% can explain personal contract purchase (PCP).

This is despite some brands claiming nearly 9 in 10 sales are made via PCP.

Indeed, 28% of new car buyers admit they can’t explain any car dealer jargon.

“These results go a long way to illustrating the state of the nation’s knowledge about finance,” said BMW Group Financial Services’ general manager Suzanne Gray.

That, she says, is why the financial firm has simplified all its car finance terms – and Gray hopes other providers will now do the same.

“Simplified motor finance is long overdue and we are responding to a public need for clear terms.”

Last month, new car sales grew once again – and they’re up 7% thus far in 2015 compared to the same period last year. Nearly 40 consecutive months of growth in new car sales has now been achieved.

The five most commonly misunderstood new car finance terms

  1. PCH (personal contract hire): An upfront payment scheme with regular monthly hire payments: you rent the car rather than buy it outright
  2. GAP insurance: covers you for any shortfall if your car is written off while you’re still paying the loan
  3. PCP (personal contract purchase): Similar to PCH but monthly payments are only the car’s depreciation rather than the full amount (see below); At the end, you can buy the car, give it back, or use the equity towards a new car
  4. GMFV (guaranteed minimum future value): How much the car will be worth at the end of a PCP; monthly payments are the difference between the purchase price and the GMFV
  5. Deposit contribution: A dealer incentive offered for those who take out dealer finance
New car finance

Car finance: 3 in 4 Brits use it but 2 in 3 can’t explain it

New car financeBritish car buyers do not understand common car finance terms such as personal contract hire, personal contract purchase and gap insurance – despite 77% of new car sales now using car dealer finance.

New car finance actually grew once again last month, by more than 10%, but two in three Brits do not feel confident explaining commonly-used car finance jargon.

Vauxhall: ‘most Corsa VXR buyers are under 30’

The survey of more than 1,000 car buyers, by BMW Group Financial Services, discovered that just 18% of car buyers can explain personal contract hire (PCH) and less than 20% can explain personal contract purchase (PCP).

This is despite some brands claiming nearly 9 in 10 sales are made via PCP.

Indeed, 28% of new car buyers admit they can’t explain any car dealer jargon.

“These results go a long way to illustrating the state of the nation’s knowledge about finance,” said BMW Group Financial Services’ general manager Suzanne Gray.

That, she says, is why the financial firm has simplified all its car finance terms – and Gray hopes other providers will now do the same.

“Simplified motor finance is long overdue and we are responding to a public need for clear terms.”

Last month, new car sales grew once again – and they’re up 7% thus far in 2015 compared to the same period last year. Nearly 40 consecutive months of growth in new car sales has now been achieved.

The five most commonly misunderstood new car finance terms

  1. PCH (personal contract hire): An upfront payment scheme with regular monthly hire payments: you rent the car rather than buy it outright
  2. GAP insurance: covers you for any shortfall if your car is written off while you’re still paying the loan
  3. PCP (personal contract purchase): Similar to PCH but monthly payments are only the car’s depreciation rather than the full amount (see below); At the end, you can buy the car, give it back, or use the equity towards a new car
  4. GMFV (guaranteed minimum future value): How much the car will be worth at the end of a PCP; monthly payments are the difference between the purchase price and the GMFV
  5. Deposit contribution: A dealer incentive offered for those who take out dealer finance
MINI TLC

1 in 4 MINI owners waste TLC one-off cost servicing pack

MINI TLC26% of MINI owners who pay for the TLC servicing pack are wasting money, the firm has revealed – because they pay for servicing outside the MINI network when there’s still credit left on their TLC pack. Read more

Lotus rolls out three-year free servicing incentive

Jean-Marc-Gales_CEO-of-Group-Lotus-and-Aslam-FarikullahLotus has introduced a three-year free servicing deal on the Elise, Evora and Exige S range in what is hoped will give a big boost in buyer confidence. Read more

'i-sapping' car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

'i-sapping' car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

'i-sapping' car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

Motorists charging sat navs, smartphones and iPods from their car’s 12v socket are at increased risk of battery-related breakdowns this winter, warns Kwik-Fit.

The automotive repair firm has dubbed the problem ‘i-sapping’.

More than three in five drivers are charging devices in their car using the 12v socket, with nearly four in 10 charging sat navs and over a third topping up their smartphones.

However, because batteries have to work so much harder in the winter, this extra drain is putting motorists at risk of breakdowns and non-starting issues.

The fact more than half of drivers do not get their batteries checked during winter is not helping, says the firm.

Communications director Roger Griggs said: “Many motorists don’t realise the effect devices plugged into their cars can have on a battery.

“Sat navs, tablets and other gadgets that are designed to make our lives more comfortable can actually have the opposite effect, by cutting short the life of even a new battery and leaving us stuck with a car that won’t start.

“At Kwik Fit, we often see an increase in vehicles coming in with battery issues when the temperatures drop, normally to the surprise of the customer.”

The firm advises anyone with a battery more than five years old to get it checked – that’s “a usual turning point in a battery’s life”.