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Truckers: Oxford zero-emissions zone is ‘absurd’

Oxford zero-emissions zone is absurd

The proposed Oxford zero-emissions zone (ZEZ) is being is described as “absurd” by Richard Burnett, Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive.

He said: “Imposing a scheme where even the cleanest, Euro VI trucks will be hit with charges is absurd.

“The councils have offered no evidence to show how these measures will improve air quality so we can only conclude this is all about showcasing their green credentials instead of making the tough choices to tackle emissions. 

“These are poorly conceived ideas which will leave Oxford’s communities footing the bill with price hikes in the high street if they go ahead.”

Another tax on business

Oxford zero-emissions zone is absurd

The zero-emission zone daily charge in the so-called ‘red zone’ is being described as just another tax on businesses, given that there are, at present. no zero-emission trucks on the market. 

At the moment, firms based within the zone could get exemptions from the charge. However, this is being branded as ‘discriminatory’ by the RHA. It says trucks delivering in the area will almost exclusively be based outside of the area.

The RHA plans to respond during the consultation periods expected over the coming months.

Zero-emission trucks: when are they coming?

Mercedes electric truck

At the moment, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla are working on electric-powered trucks. The E-Actros is still in the test phase, with the Mercedes trucks putting in miles with a selection of companies.

The Tesla Semi – not confirmed to be UK-bound – is still testing in America, and isn’t expected to be on the market for another two years.

The 10 hottest new SUVs at the New York Auto Show

New York Auto ShowUnless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’ll know that SUVs are hotter than hot cakes right now. New car buyers simply cannot get enough of the high-ridin’ heroes of the high street.

The 2017 New York Auto Show offers everything from a supercar-taming Jeep to a crazy concept from Toyota. We check out 10 of the best SUVs on display.

Jeep Grand Cherokee TrackhawkNew York Auto Show

Jeep’s claim that the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the “quickest SUV ever” might ruffle a few feathers at Tesla, but there’s no doubting its performance credentials. The supercharged 6.2-litre V8 engine delivers 707hp and 645lb ft, enough to keep that new Dodge Demon thingy on its toes.

The top speed is 180mph, while the 0-60mph time is polished off in 3.5 seconds. For reference, the Tesla Model X will sprint to 60mph in a claimed 2.9 seconds. But if the Tesla represents the future of the SUV, the Trackhawk is thoroughly old-school. A jackhammer to Tesla’s silent assassin.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S CoupeNew York Auto Show

Nearly 50 years of AMG history has led us here: to the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S Coupe. The 4.0-litre V8 biturbo produces 503hp and 516lb ft of torque, helping to propel the aesthetically-challenged SUV to 60mph in 3.7 seconds.

The Coupe shares many of its styling cues with the standard and more practical GL63 SUV, which means a bold AMG Panamericana grille at the front and an aggressive rear bumper featuring an integrated diffuser. The key difference is the sloping roofline, which gives it the look of a classic coupe. That’s if you squint. Like, really hard. No, harder than that.

Chevrolet Tahoe RSTNew York Auto Show

Keen not be left chasing shadows – or rather the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – Chevrolet has released a Rally Sport Truck (RST) package for the Suburban and Tahoe. The RST delivers the obligatory styling upgrades and larger wheels, but it’s the Tahoe that has piqued our interest.

Tick the box marked ‘Performance’ and the Tahoe RST is treated to the 6.2-litre V8 engine lifted straight out of the Silverado. While 420hp and 460lb ft of torque might not seem like a big deal in a world where the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk exists, it certainly makes for an interesting SUV. The 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds is more hot hatch than supercar, mind.

Lincoln NavigatorNew York Auto Show

Nobody does supersize SUVs quite like the Americans, and the new Lincoln Navigator has the potential to be the best of the breed. Lincoln claims that it will elevate “family travel to first class” and it’s certainly large enough to rival an airliner, with enough comfort and convenience features to challenge a first class departure lounge.

It’s lighter, too, with a new aluminium-alloy helping the new Navigator to tip the scales some 200 pounds lighter than before. That said, it’ll still weigh the equivalent of an out-of-town supermarket. Power is sourced from a twin-turbocharged V6 engine producing 450hp.

Volvo XC60New York Auto Show

If the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade are prime examples of all-American SUVs, the Volvo XC60 offers a more European flavour. Introduced at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, the XC60 muscled in on the US market, quickly establishing itself as Volvo’s best-selling vehicle.

More than a million XC60s have been sold, which represents 30% of Volvo’s global sales, so there’s a lot of pressure resting on the shoulders of this good looking SUV. If it’s as good as the XC90 – which we suspect it will be – it stands every chance of picking up where the old model left off.

Buick EnclaveNew York Auto Show

The Enclave is as important to Buick as the XC60 is to Volvo. Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick and GMC, called the original model a “game-changer”: a reference to the fact that it arrived at a time when GM was in need of a hero. The outgoing model has been on sale for close to a decade: a testament to its success and popularity.

The new Enclave is bigger than before, but remains powered by a 3.6-litre V6 engine, with power increased to 302hp. Buick has used the new Enclave to launch the new Avenir sub-brand. Think along the lines of Ford’s Vignale, with plusher materials, improved tech and a higher price.

Subaru AscentNew York Auto Show

If Subaru wants to mix it with the big boys, it needs an authentic SUV. Something larger than the Outback, tougher than the XV and less niche than the Forester. The Ascent concept previews a future three-row SUV that will be called the, er, Subaru Ascent.

The good news is that the interior looks superb, complete with middle-row captain’s chairs and three seats in the third row. You also know that it will be formidable off-road. The bad news is that the Ascent will be sold exclusively in North America.

Infiniti QX80 MonographNew York Auto Show

To say that the Infiniti QX80 Monograph is slightly less ugly than the current QX80 would be like saying Freddy Krueger is slightly less scary than Michael Myers. While it might be true, it’s still going to give you nightmares. But don’t worry, it’s just a design study, so there’s still time for Infiniti to have a rethink.

Infiniti has issued many words to promote the Monobrow – 1,224, to be precise – but doesn’t give too much away. The alloy wheels, in case you’re wondering, are 24-inch in diameter and overlap the tyres to present the appearance of 26-inch rims. An SUV for the Middle East, perhaps, but not one for Middle England.

Range Rover VelarNew York Auto Show

The Range Rover Velar is old news. Fresh from its debut at the Geneva Motor Show, Ellie Goulding was invited to take a tour of New York in the SUV that will sit between the Evoque and Sport in the Range Rover range.

Three engine options will be offered in the US, including a 247hp 2.0-litre petrol, 180hp 2.0-litre diesel and 380hp supercharged V6 petrol. “I have always been a big Range Rover fan”, said a starry-eyed Ellie Goulding.

Toyota FT-4XNew York Auto Show

Half-Blade Runner escapee, half-lifestyle accessory, the Toyota FT-4X concept is based on the same platform as the new CH-R. That makes it a potential rival for the Jeep Renegade – if Toyota builds it.

Inside, there’s an instrument cluster that looks like a smartphone, a removable radio and door handles that double as water bottles. There’s also a GoPro camera mounted in the door mirror. Young, outdoorsy types will love it. If only they could afford to buy new cars…

Detroit Motor Show 2017

Detroit Motor Show 2017: in pictures

Detroit Motor Show 2017Detroit has seen hard times, but it’s still America’s Motor City – and home of its most important car show. We reveal the cars and trucks making headlines at the Cobo Centre, from the bold Audi Q8 concept seen here to Kia’s exciting new sports saloon.

Audi Q8Detroit Motor Show 2017

The Q8 concept previews Audi’s forthcoming SUV flagship – due in 2018. It’s sleeker than the current Q7, with a sweeping, coupe-style roof. Powered by a petrol/electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the 450hp Q8 will hit 62mph in 5.4 seconds.

Inside, the Q8 boasts four luxurious Nappa leather seats, plus an advanced version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit with graphics projected onto the windscreen. Battery-charge time is two hours, with an all-electric range of 37 miles. We reckon the Range Rover should be worried…

Kia Stinger GTDetroit Motor Show 2017

Kia wants to sex-up its image, and a brawny, V6-engined sports coupe is a good way to do so. The 370hp Stinger GT will take on the Audi S4, BMW 340i and Mercedes-AMG C43 when it arrives in Europe in late 2017.

The Stinger GT’s platform comes from Hyundai’s Genesis luxury saloon, but with a stiffer chassis for sharper handling. Buyers will have a choice of four engines, including a four-cylinder diesel. But it’s that 167mph twin-turbo V6 we’re really excited about.

Volkswagen I.D. BuzzDetroit Motor Show 2017

What? Yet another VW Microbus concept? Yes, but this one stands a good chance of being built – and let’s hope so. The all-electric I.D. Buzz uses Volkswagen’s new scalable MEB platform. Quoted power output is 369hp and range is 373 miles.

The eight-seat I.D. Buzz can also drive itself. Push the steering wheel and it disappears into the dash as the car slips into ‘I.D. Pilot’ mode. This uses cameras, lasers and radar sensors to detect other road users. Oh, and the rear seats turn into a bed, so you can nap while the I.D. Buzz does all the hard work.

Lexus LSDetroit Motor Show 2017

With dramatic looks influenced by the LF-FC concept car, the new Lexus LS luxury saloon debuted at Detroit. As you’d expect, it will be available with petrol/electric hybrid power, but the big news is a hydrogen fuel-cell option – following the lead of parent company Toyota and its hydrogen-powered Mirai.

While other companies such as Volkswagen bet on electric power, Toyota/Lexus hopes hydrogen will be the fuel of the future. The LS may emulate the LF-FC, with in-wheel electric motors for dynamic four-wheel drive.

Mercedes-AMG GT CDetroit Motor Show 2017

Taking pride of place on the Mercedes stand at Detroit is the Mercedes-AMG GT C. It’s the coupe version of the GT C Roadster, revealed last year. Slotting in between the GT S and GT R, the GTC’s 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 produces 550hp – the same as the soft-top version.

That means 62mph in 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 197mph – even quicker than the GT S seen here. It’s 35kg lighter than the Roadster, while the rear track is 57mm wider. The GT C will initially be launched as an Edition 50 special edition, celebrating 50 years of AMG, featuring black chrome trim and two paint colours: Designo Graphite Grey Magno and Designo Cashmere White Magno.

Audi SQ5Detroit Motor Show 2017

Alongside Audi’s Q8 concept at Detroit is this sporty little number: the 354hp SQ5. It’s powered by the same 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 as the S5 – a departure from the old model, which was diesel-only.

That power accelerates the near-two-tonne SUV to 62mph in 5.4 seconds, helped by its all-wheel-drive system. There’s also an optional rear Sport differential, which divides torque across the rear axle. Combine this with Sport mode for school-run heroics.

Ford BroncoDetroit Motor Show 2017

The original Ford Bronco was never sold in Europe, but it was a popular no-thrills 4×4 on sale in the USA for 30 years from 1966 to 1996. Although Ford hasn’t taken a concept Bronco to Detroit, it has revealed a Bronco graphic on its stand – with the words ‘coming in 2020’ underneath.

The firm hasn’t revealed much more information on the new Bronco, although it has hinted that it’ll be a rugged retro 4×4 with genuine off-road ability. It’s also said it’ll be a global vehicle and, although a decision hasn’t been made, it could be sold in the UK. Fans of the classic original are suitably excited.

Infiniti QX50Detroit Motor Show 2017

This attractive SUV is the new Infiniti QX50 concept. It follows the QX Sport Inspiration seen at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, but is closer to being a production-ready rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Lexus NX. It could be exactly what Nissan’s premium brand needs to boost its image in Europe.

Power comes from Infiniti’s clever new 2.0-litre VC-T turbocharged petrol engine, which the brand is claiming will have the efficiency of modern turbodiesels. The QX50 concept also features clever autonomous tech – but the manufacturer says it’ll work with the driver, rather than taking over entirely.

Porsche 911 GTSDetroit Motor Show 2017

The controversial new flat-six 911 has now been given the GTS treatment: meaning an extra 30hp over the regular Carrera S (and 20hp more than its predecessor). Unfortunately, Porsche decided against revealing the GTS in the metal at Detroit, so you’ll have to settle for this press photo.

As you’d expect, here are a wide range of GTS models available: coupe, cabriolet or Targa, and two- or four-wheel drive. Oh, and you can choose between seven-speed manual or PDK auto gearboxes.

Volkswagen Tiguan AllspaceDetroit Motor Show 2017

Good news: from summer 2017, you’ll be able to buy a Volkswagen Tiguan with a slightly longer wheelbase and seven seats. That extra practicality means it’ll be an interesting, German alternative to the likes of the Nissan X-Trail.

It’s difficult to spot the external differences between the Allspace and the regular Tiguan, but anoraks will spy a 110mm longer wheelbase (the overall car is 215mm longer), while the bonnet and grille are also revised.

Driverless truck lugs trailer full of Budweiser for 120 miles

Driverless truck lugs trailer full of beer for 120 miles

Driverless truck lugs trailer full of Budweiser for 120 miles

A lorry-load of Budweiser beer has successfully been transported 120 miles across the US state of Colorado without the aid of a human driver.

The company behind the stunt, San Francisco tech start-up Otto, says it is ‘rethinking transportation’. It’s aiming to reduce both costs and cut the number of crashes involving long-distance lorry drivers by introducing driverless trucks.

Working with US brewing company Anheuser-Busch and with the support from the state of Colorado, a self-driving Volvo truck hauling a fully-laden trailer of Budweiser beer travelled 120 miles along the highway from Fort Collins to Denver.

“The incredible success of this pilot shipment is an example of what is possible when you deploy self-driving technology. It also showcases the importance of collaboration with forward-looking states like Colorado and innovative companies like Anheuser-Busch,” said Otto Co-Founder Lior Ron.

“By embracing this technology, both organisations are actively contributing to the creation of a safer and more efficient transportation network. We are excited to have reached this milestone together, and look forward to further rolling out our technology on the nation’s highways.”

Driverless truck lugs trailer full of Budweiser for 120 miles

A professional truck driver was in the cabin ready to take over during the experiment, but he didn’t have to take control from the driverless lorry at any point.

Otto says the majority of crashes on US roads are caused by human error, and by taking the human element away the road network could be considerably safer.

It also suggests that a shortage of drivers is putting pressure on truck drivers to work long hours, a risky strategy that could be combated using autonomous vehicles.

“Anheuser-Busch is passionate about innovation and exploring ways to improve the safety, sustainability, and efficiency of the industries our business touches,” said Anheuser-Busch’s senior director, logistics strategy, James Sembrot.

“We admire Otto’s vision that will shape the future of self-driving transportation. As we continue to partner with long-haul carriers to ship our beers, we hope to see this technology widely deployed across our highways to improve safety for all road users and work towards a low-emissions future.”

Best new pick-up trucks in the UK

Best new pick-up trucks in the UK

Best new pick-up trucks in the UK

Business is booming in the pick-up truck segment, with a new wave of buyers starting to appreciate the work hard/play hard characteristics of these super-tough vehicles. As you’ll see from our roundup of the best one-tonne pick-ups in the UK, there’s never been a better time to, er, pick one up.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class

Even the premium carmakers fancy a slice of the pick-up pie. Hardly surprising, given some 650,000 units were registered across the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) in 2015. Mercedes-Benz will launch its one one-tonne pick-up in 2017 and we’ve been to Stockholm for a preview of the pick-up concept. Called the X-Class (coolest never ever), it’s based on the Nissan Navara. We might even see an AMG version.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class pick-up truck concept: everything you need to know

Toyota Hilux

Such is the reputation of the Toyota Hilux, it has almost become the brand generic for the pick-up truck. You can thank a memorable appearance on Top Gear and an intrinsic link with revolutionaries and civil wars for its global fame. Today’s Hilux is more car-like than ever, but is still able to offer up to a 3.5 tonne towing capacity and 1 tonne payload. In the UK it’s powered by a 150hp 2.4-litre diesel engine with CO2 emissions of 185g/km.

Mitsubishi L200

If the Hilux has an arch-nemesis it’s this: the Mitsubishi L200. The Toyota might have the Invincible, but the L200 fights back with the Titan, Warrior and Barbarian. Have some of that. It’s able to offer a ‘best in class’ total load capacity of 4,090kg based on the load bed and trailer combined, while a claimed 42.8mpg provides a theoretical range of 700 miles from a single tank of diesel. Power is sourced from a 2.4-litre diesel engine, with CO2 emissions ranging from 169g/km to 189g/km.

Read a Mitsubishi L200 review on Motoring Research

Nissan NP300 Navara

Nissan NP300 Navara

Pick-up buyers have never had things so good, with the big players all treated to an overhaul over recent months. The Nissan NP300 Navara is probably the most car-like of all the pick-ups on sale, with a choice of two 2.3-litre diesel engines. In twin-turbocharged form, the Navara offers 332lb ft of torque and CO2 emissions as low as 167g/km. In single-turbo guise, the CO2 drops to 159g/km in two-wheel guise. If technology and a car-like interior top your list of priorities, this could be the pick-up for you.

Read a Nissan Navara review on Motoring Research

Isuzu D-Max

The Isuzu D-Max stays true to its commercial roots, although a new version in 2017 should make it a little more lifestyle-friendly. Thanks to a five-year warranty and formidable off-road credentials, the D-Max is incredibly popular. A maximum 3,500kg towing weight and 1,085kg ensures the D-Max is up for just about any challenge.

Volkswagen Amarok

Climb up to the Volkswagen Amarok cabin and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re sat in a standard road car – the interior is that good. It might not be the cheapest pick-up on sale, but the top trim Highline model is well equipped. All models offer a 3,000kg towing capacity, while the Highline automatic adds an extra 200kg. A Touareg-sourced V6 TDI engine will go on sale in 2017, offering a punchy 224hp and a mighty 405lb ft of torque. The 0-62mph time is a hot hatch-worrying 7.9 seconds.

Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger was refreshed early in 2016, with a raft of changes to ensure it stays in touch with its Japanese rivals. It features much of the tech you’ll find in Ford’s standard road cars, including Ford Sync2 and a host of optional safety devices. You can tow up to 3,500kg and wade through water up to 800mm deep. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are as low as 43.5mpg and 171g/km respectively.

SsangYong Musso

The SsangYong Musso is back – albeit in a different form. The original Musso was a rough and ready SUV, while the new Musso is a double-cab pick-up with prices starting from a headline-grabbing £15,995 plus VAT. Standard specification is generous, while the 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine offers 295lb ft of torque. It might be a little more rugged than its aforementioned rivals, but the low price and five-year limitless mileage will appeal to some buyers.

Great Wall Steed

The Great Wall Steed will go down in history as the first Chinese car to be offered for sale in the UK with a Chinese badge. Like the Musso, the Steed can’t offer car-like dynamics or a class-leading interior, but a six-year warranty and prices from £14,998 plus VAT make it a tempting proposition for those on a budget.

Fiat Fullback

Fiat Fullback

The one-tonne pick-up segment is so buoyant, other carmakers are keen to grab a slice of the pie. In 2015, some 40,000 medium-size pick-ups were registered in the UK – a jump of 20% compared to the previous year. But rather than go to the expense of creating a new pick-up, some manufacturers are turning to badge-engineering in order to create a new truck. The Fiat Fullback is mechanically identical to the Mitsubishi L200: the same chassis, the same 2.4-litre diesel engine, the same performance and economy figures. Looks a tad more appealing than the L200, mind.

Read a Fiat Fullback review on Motoring Research

Renault Alaskan

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has delivered a number of spot-the-difference vehicles, with the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar the most notable example. In 2017, Renault will launch the X-Trail based Koleos, as well as this: the Navara-based Alaskan. It’s mechanically identical to the Navara, but will feature huge Renault badges.

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6

Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6

We’re adding a wildcard to the mix, in the formidable shape of the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. Admittedly, this isn’t your average pick-up, but a truck developed for the Australian military ought to be able to cope with a trip to Wickes and some light off-roading at the weekend.

Ford F-Series

The Ford F-Series is America’s best-selling vehicle, and while it’s not officially available in the UK, some importers will offer the big truck to order. David Boatwright Partnership has a range of F-150s in stock, with engines ranging from a 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost to a full-fat 5.0-litre V8.

Ram Pickup

Similarly, David Boatright is also offering a range of Rams in the UK, plus an ability to order any colour or specification not in stock. Its website quotes a price from £38,995 plus VAT for a “top specification crew cab”, which is powered by a 5.7-litre V8 Hemi engine. Not convinced – you could import a Texan-built Toyota Tundra, also powered by a 5.7-litre V8 engine.

Skoda Felicia Fun

Skoda Felicia Fun

No need to adjust your set, we know the Skoda Felicia Fun isn’t a new pick-up. But not everybody is in the market for a new truck, so we thought we’d add a few favourites from the past. The very yellow Skoda featured a pair of sliding rear seats that could be pulled into the load bay. Charlie Dimmock was a fan.

Proton Jumbuck

Remember the Proton Jumbuck? Probably not, but for a few years the Wira-based pick-up was offered for sale in the UK. The 1.5-litre petrol-engined Jumbuck offered a 645kg payload and a load capacity of 800 litres. What’s more, the Jumbuck was enhanced by Lotus handling. We’re not kidding.

Subaru Brat

Neither the Felicia Fun or Jumbuck could offer four-wheel drive. No, if you wanted an authentic off-road experience, you needed the Subaru Brat, also known as the MV, Brumby or 284. Visit the countryside this weekend and you’ll see one enjoying active service on a farm. The body might be crumbling, but the mechanicals will still be going strong.

Volkswagen Caddy

Volkswagen Caddy

Scene tax ensures the Volkswagen Caddy commands a premium on the used car market, but retro pick-ups don’t come any cooler than this.

Daihatsu Hijet

The Daihatsu Hijet is the very antithesis of that six-wheeled Mercedes. It’ll be cheap to run, but don’t expect a cosseting ride. Still want that G63 AMG? Yeah, you probably do.

Mercedes-Benz truck convoy

Hauliers seek compensation from truck makers in cartel claim

Mercedes-Benz truck convoyThe Road Haulage Association is seeking compensation for members after truck manufacturers were implicated in a price fixing cartel.

The RHA says it is “duty-bound to acknowledge and act upon our members’ wishes… they feel aggrieved at the news of a truck pricing cartel and are looking for us to represent them”.

It’s a particularly acute issue given the tight margins Britain’s road transport sector works to, said RHA national chairman Jim French.

“The truck is the largest capital investment our members make.”

The compensation case follows the European Commission’s decision to fine truck manufacturers a record-breaking £2.5 billion for the pricing fixing cartel.

Between 1997 and 2011, four manufacturers – Daimler, DAF, Iveco and Volvo/Renault – colluded on pricing and passed on the cost of environmental protection to customers.

Volkswagen-owned MAN escaped a fine because it was the whistle-blower.

But any case for compensation is not going to be easy, said French. “The process for such a large number of interested parties is complex but we have been in discussions with our legal advisors so that we can progress the matter further.

He also, perhaps optimistically, doesn’t want to upset the “amicable and close working relationship” the RHA has with truck manufacturers, but insists the organisation wishes to resolve the interests of members “as swiftly and as appropriately as possible”.

UK trucks

Foreign truckers help fix 320,000 British potholes

UK trucksForeign truckers have contributed to more than £17 million in lorry levies raised since the introduction of the government’s new ‘fair deal’ HGV charge in April 2014 – and ministers admit revenue raised is soaring well ahead of predictions. Read more

Truck-50mph

Now we’re trucking: rural HGV speed limit rises to 50mph

Truck-50mphThe government will make a rare speed limit INCREASE today when it raises the speed limit for lorries on rural roads from 40mph to 50mph. Read more